Barrows, C. E., Belle, J. M., Fleishman, A., Lubitz, C. C., James, B. C.
BACKGROUND: Annual cancer-related healthcare expenditure in the United States is estimated to exceed $150 billion by 2020. As the prevalence of thyroid cancer increases worldwide, thyroid cancer survivorship is associated with increasing personal and cumulative costs. Few studies have examined the psychological and material economic costs experienced by thyroid cancer survivors. We seek to estimate the comparative prevalence of financial and psychological hardship among thyroid cancer and non-thyroid cancer patients in the United States. METHODS: The 2011 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Experiences with Cancer databank was queried to identify thyroid and non-thyroid (colon, breast, lung, prostate) cancer survivors. This survey includes assessments of financial stress, material hardship, and psychological financial hardship. Cancer incidence-based weighted estimates of responses were compared between thyroid and non-thyroid cancer survivors. Independent predictors of material and psychological financial burden were identified through separate multivariate regression models. RESULTS: Thyroid cancer survivors more frequently reported psychological financial burden compared to non-thyroid cancer (46.1% vs 24.0%, P = .04). Material financial hardship (28.1% vs 19.9%, P = .37) and concurrent material and psychological hardship (25.1% vs 12.5%, P = .09) were noted at similar frequencies between thyroid and non-thyroid cancer survivors. However, on multivariate analysis, only younger age and lack of health insurance coverage were independently associated with psychological financial hardship. CONCLUSION: Thyroid cancer survivors report greater psychological financial hardship than non-thyroid cancer survivors. Because this financial burden may be underrecognized in the medical community, further studies should be conducted to aid physicians in better understanding the impact of a thyroid cancer diagnosis.