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New Study Links Cancer’s Financial Burden to Mortality Rates

A new study conducted by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has found that the financial toxicity resulting from the high cost of cancer care is almost as deadly as cancer itself.

“It varies from cancer to cancer, but for those who are in a bankruptcy situation-and about 3 percent of cancer patients go bankrupt-the risk of dying is just very, very high,” said lead author Scott Ramsey, MD, PhD, director of the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research, or HICOR.

This latest study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, showed that cancer patients who went bankrupt had nearly an 80 percent higher risk of dying than patients who didn’t declare bankruptcy. This figure was significantly higher for people with some cancers who declared bankruptcy.

In 2013, Ramsey’s research team reported that patients diagnosed with cancer were 2.5 times more likely to file for bankruptcy than those not diagnosed with the disease. Here they show that filing for bankruptcy is linked with poorer survival statistics.

Although previous studies have shown an association between financial hardship and other adverse health outcomes, this study is believed to be the first to include verified information on a specific medical condition-cancer-in an association with bankruptcy and mortality.

This article was adapted from information provided by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.