Monday, May 20th 2013

Financial Toxicity In Cancer Care

I wouldn’t know what to tell patients if they raised the issues of the cost of care. Let me correct that, I don’t know what to tell them. Questions like: “How much will this cost?” or “Are there any resources to help pay for this?” do come up in my patient encounters. I can do little more than shrug ignorantly and suggest a call to the social worker on the floor or in the clinic.

Now some limited research out of Duke looks at how discussions about cost in oncological care impact such,

The people who did talk about financial issues told the researchers it was helpful to do so. “They said it helped decrease their expenses,” Zafar says.


“I treat colon cancer, and I have the option of giving a drug as an IV or an oral pill,” he says. “If I give the pill form, the patient faces a copay even if they have insurance, and that copay goes away if I give the intravenous version.”


“We can’t necessarily give the best care to patients unless we address cost,” Zafar says.

Cost and the taboo about discussing such is obviously an obstacle to care. I wish I was better informed on resources for my patients. I’ve grown better over the course of my training but still feel pretty impotent in pointing them in the right direction.