March 29, 2021 — HealthyWomen, the nation's leading independent, nonprofit health resource for women, has partnered with CancerCare®, the leading national nonprofit organization providing free support services to anyone affected by cancer, to raise awareness on both the emotional and financial toll of cancer.
HealthyWomen and CancerCare conducted a survey to understand the impact of costs on those living with cancer, cancer survivors and their caregivers. As the survival rates for cancer increase, unfortunately, so do the price tags for treatment. These cost burdens often disproportionately affect women and people of color in the United States. By shining a light on how costs amplify the challenges of cancer, HealthyWomen and CancerCare plan to offer solutions to patients, healthcare providers and others through the sharing of resources, creation of educational tools and development of communication guides for people to use with their clinicians.
According to the survey of more than 1,000 respondents, costs were a factor in treatment decisions for 44%, and 26% adjusted their treatment plans, either changing or forgoing a treatment or medication, because of cost. In addition, more than one-third (37%) experienced some change in their employment status because they were unable to work. These financial burdens created emotional distress and anxiety, and caregivers were even more likely to suffer these negative emotions than those living with cancer.
More than half of respondents expressed negative emotions as a specific result of cancer costs. Female patients and caregivers were more likely than their male counterparts to experience feelings of anxiety and depression, and caregivers were significantly more likely to report feeling worry and exhaustion than those living with cancer.
"Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be devastating enough without factoring in the significant costs for treating and managing this diagnosis," said Beth Battaglino, RN-C, CEO of HealthyWomen. "Cancer has a tremendous impact not only on the lives of the person diagnosed, but for their family and caregivers. This experience can be overwhelming and costly. Through this program we have partnered with CancerCare to ensure people have resources to help navigate and understand all of the options available to help create a plan that will support them emotionally and physically."
Additional highlights from the survey include:
- Women and people of color were more likely to report employment changes and lost income due to cancer than other groups. Only about one-quarter (24%) of male respondents reported employment changes, compared with 42% of women.
- The cost of cancer got in the way of other healthcare needs. Nearly one in five (18%) respondents reported putting off preventive care, 16% reported putting off non-cancer–related care, and 10% put off elective surgeries due to cancer costs.
- Nearly half of respondents (48%) took action to get help paying for direct or indirect costs of cancer. Respondents reported getting financial assistance, borrowing money or even declaring bankruptcy.
"Choosing between lifesaving treatments and paying bills is a choice no one should have to make," says Christine Verini, Chief Operating Officer of CancerCare. "Through this partnership, we are looking to empower and educate people on the best ways to manage the financial and emotional burdens associated with cancer and to truly advocate for their health."
As part of this campaign, HealthyWomen and CancerCare will host a webinar on April 14 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. EST. It will feature renowned health experts discussing a range of issues to help inspire solutions and offer hope to those impacted by cancer.
This resource was created with support from Amgen and Daiichi Sankyo.
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Founded in 1944, CancerCare® is the leading national organization providing free, professional support services and information to help people manage the emotional, practical and financial challenges of cancer. Our comprehensive services include case management, counseling and support groups over the phone, online and in-person, educational workshops, publications and financial and co-payment assistance. All CancerCare® services are provided by master's-prepared oncology social workers and world-leading cancer experts.
To learn more, visit cancercare.org or call 800-813-HOPE (4673).
HealthyWomen is the nation's leading independent, nonprofit health information source for women. Its mission is to educate women to make informed health choices for themselves and their families by providing objective, research-based health information. For 30+ years, millions of women have turned to HealthyWomen for answers to their most personal healthcare questions. To learn more, please visit Healthywomen.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.