Cancer survivors with financial difficulties have a higher risk of depressed mood and psychological distress and are more likely to worry about cancer recurrence than survivors without heightened financial problems, according to a new Virginia Commonwealth University study.
Hrishikesh Kale, a graduate student in the VCU School of Pharmacy, spearheaded the research on the public health impact of cancer-related costs, under the direction of Norman V. Carroll, Ph.D., a professor at the School of Pharmacy. The study was published this week in the journal Cancer, a biweekly, peer-reviewed scientific journal. The study investigated the prevalence and sources of financial problems reported by a nationally representative sample of cancer survivors. Also studied was the impact of cancer-related financial burden on patients’ health-related quality of life and psychological health.
The findings that survivors with financial problems struggle more with depressed mood and psychological distress, including with concerns about the chance of cancer recurrence, suggests that it is critical for patient care to consider these components, Kale said.
“Cancer survivorship care programs can identify survivors with the greatest financial burden and focus on helping them cope with psychological stress, anxiety and depression throughout their journey with cancer,” Kale said. “We hope that oncologists, clinical pharmacists and other health care providers will increase the extent to which they consider selecting treatments that are less expensive, but similar in effectiveness, discussing treatment costs with patients and involving patients in making decisions about their therapy.”