Financial Toxicity in Adults With Cancer: Adverse Outcomes and Noncompliance

Thomas G. Knight; Allison M. Deal; Stacie B. Dusetzina; Hyman B. Muss; Seul Ki Choi; Jeannette T. Bensen; Grant R. Williams


J Oncol Pract. 2018;14(11) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Purpose: Because of the escalating cost of cancer care coupled with high insurance deductibles, premiums, and uninsured populations, patients with cancer are affected by treatment-related financial harm, known as financial toxicity. The purpose of this study was to describe individuals reporting financial toxicity and to identify rates of and reasons for affordability-related treatment noncompliance.

Methods: From May 2010 to November 2015, adult patients (age ≥ 18 years) with cancer were identified from a Health Registry/Cancer Survivorship Cohort. Financial toxicity was defined as agreement with the phrase "You have to pay for more medical care than you can afford" from the Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire-18. Logistic regression and Fisher exact tests were used to compare groups.

Results: Of 1,988 participants, 524 (26%) reported financial toxicity. Patients reporting financial toxicity were more likely age 65 years or younger, female, nonwhite, non-English speaking, not married, less educated, and to have received a diagnosis more recently (all P < .001). Participants with financial toxicity were more likely to report noncompliance with medication, owing to inability to afford prescription drugs (relative risk [RR], 3.55; 95% CI, 2.53 to 4.98), and reported forgoing mental health care (RR, 3.89; 95% CI, 2.04 to 7.45), doctor's visits (RR, 2.98; 95% CI, 1.97 to 4.51), and medical tests (RR, 2.54; 95% CI, 1.49 to 4.34). The most endorsed reasons for delayed care were not having insurance coverage and being unable to afford household expenses.

Conclusion: More than 25% of adults with cancer reported financial toxicity that was associated with an increased risk for medical noncompliance. Financial toxicity remains a major issue in cancer care, and efforts are needed to ensure patients experiencing high levels of financial toxicity are able to access recommended care.