Improvements in cancer diagnosis and treatment have resulted in substantial growth in the costs of cancer care1. Changes in a patient’s household income as a result of a cancer diagnosis or its treatment, in combination with the out-of-pocket costs of care, can place a significant financial burden on patients and their families2.
The study is a prospective observational pilot study among adults treated with anti-cancer therapy, in both the adjuvant and palliative settings, in an outpatient department of a tertiary cancer hospital in Sydney, Australia.
We have prospectively collected data from 14 patients currently receiving treatment for their cancer in the outpatient setting at one cancer centre thus far. Participants completed a questionnaire comprising four sections relating to socio-demographic characteristics, employment/income history, health insurance status and cancer-related treatment.
The data presented here has been collected as part of a larger pilot study investigating the out-of-pocket costs of cancer care for patients at three Australian cancer centres.
Preliminary results for 14 participants: The median age in our cohort was 57 years (range: 37 – 77). The most common cancer type was breast (n=7), followed by prostate (n=2), lung (n=2), renal cell carcinoma (n=1) and gastroesophageal (n=1). 10 patients described a reduction in their household income after the diagnosis of cancer and 4 patients reported no change in their household income level. 12 patients were working part-time or full-time in paid work prior to the diagnosis of cancer, of which 10 described changes in their work conditions, most commonly decreased work hours (6), ceased working (3) and retired (1).
We aim to continue recruitment of participants at a further two sites, which will allow for a more heterogeneous population from different socioeconomic backgrounds.
These preliminary findings are informative and may be indicative towards the changes in household income status as a result of a diagnosis of cancer and its treatment. Further results from the ongoing study will help to inform us regarding the magnitude and significance of these changes.