Financial Toxicity in People Living with Advanced Cancer: A New, Deadly, and Poorly Addressed Effect of Cancer and Necessary Treatment

de la Cruz, M., Delgado-Guay, M. O.

OBJECTIVES: Advances in cancer treatments have allowed improved outcomes, even with advanced disease. However, this progress has resulted in a new toxic effect termed ‘financial toxicity.’ Financial toxicity severely impacts quality of life, even among those insured. The purpose of this article is to gain better understanding of this relatively new concept to better care for our patients, presented primarily from a US perspective. DATA SOURCES: These include medical databases (PubMed, Scopus) and researcher experience. CONCLUSION: Financial toxicity is highly prevalent in patients with advanced cancer, and it is associated with multiple worsened outcomes. Those with advancing cancer are at accumulating risk of financial toxicity, exacerbated by other known risk factors. The effects of financial toxicity are debilitating, resulting in deleterious physical, psychological, spiritual, and social effects drastically affecting quality of life. Coping strategies such as taking less than prescribed therapy, delays seeking care, and poorly managed comorbid conditions potentially cause increased symptoms and worse outcomes. IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: Careful assessments by multidisciplinary health care teams could allow early intervention, timely referral to health professionals including social work or financial navigators, and provision of emotional support. Further studies are needed to explore solutions on an institutional and national level that can guide health policy and the creation of practice models that can reduce the harm of financial toxicity.

Health Condition(s): Cancer
Year Published: 2021
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