Discussing Financial Toxicity in Oncology Settings

ascoThe American Society of Clinical Oncology is one of the leading specialty organizations for physicians who take care of patients with cancer. A reporter from ASCO just wrote a nice piece, in which she questioned me to go into more detail about the challenge of discussing cost of care with oncology patients. I thought I would share that with you:

High costs of cancer treatments can be an “undisclosed toxicity” that can harm a patient’s overall health and well-being, according to an article in The New England Journal of Medicine. High medical bills can not only cause stress and anxiety but may also compel patients to cut back on spending for other basic needs—such as food, leading to less healthy diets—or to take medications less frequently than prescribed.

“This is a very frequent cause of nonadherence,” the article’s lead author,Peter A. Ubel, MD, Professor of Business, Public Policy, and Medicine at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, said in an interview with The ASCO Post. “It is a medical problem. Patients may not be showing up for tests or taking their pills because they can’t afford it. Dr. Ubel also tackled the issue of physicians rarely discussing medical intervention costs in an op-ed article he wrote for The New York Times.

Not Always Easy to Know

“Because treatments can be ‘financially toxic,’ imposing out-of-pocket costs that may impair patients’ well-being, we contend that physicians need to disclose the financial consequences of treatment alternatives just as they inform patients about treatments’ side effects,” Dr. Ubel and colleagues wrote…(Read more here)

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