Financial stress during treatment is likely to have an impact on both quality of life and outcomes for pleural mesothelioma patients.
That finding comes from a recent Johns Hopkins study of patients with newly-diagnosed lung cancer.
The study found that cancer patients who were under financial strain had decreased quality of life. The report appears in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology. It includes a list of guidelines to help identify patients at risk for “financial toxicity”.
The Financial Burden of Mesothelioma Treatment
Cancer treatment is rarely inexpensive. Thanks to advances in mesothelioma therapies, patient outcomes are improving. But the costs of these cutting-edge mesothelioma treatments can be even higher than standard therapies.
John Hopkins researchers wanted to see if there was a link between financial stress during cancer treatment, life quality, and outcomes.
They collected household financial information from 97 newly-diagnosed lung cancer patients. A test called the Comprehensive Score for Financial Toxicity was used to assess patients’ level of financial stress.
Patients then answered the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Lung test to determine their quality of life. Researchers looked for correlations between the two scores.
Measuring the Impact of Financial Stress
The median age of the patients studied was 64. Most (52 percent) were men and 77 percent were white. Almost forty percent of the patients reported they were “just getting by” or “struggling” financially.
Twenty-two percent of the cancer patients had to make “significant life sacrifices” because of financial stress. Fourteen percent had to use savings or retirement to pay for medical expenses.
There was no link between how much money patients anticipated having to spend in the next six months and either financial stress or quality of life.
The Message for Pleural Mesothelioma Patients
Financial stress is common for cancer patients and can impact their quality of life.
Quality of life for mesothelioma patients includes things like the ability to participate in day-to-day activities, live without pain, and enjoy time with loved ones.
The new study showed patients who were “unable to meet daily expenses” or those who had less than a month of savings in the bank were at highest risk for financial stress. Patients under the most strain had less favorable treatment outcomes.
Mesothelioma patients who are having trouble paying for their treatment may have options. Mesothelioma is almost always caused by asbestos exposure. If an employer’s negligence led to a worker’s mesothelioma, the worker may be entitled to compensation.
Hazell, SZ, et al, “Financial Toxicity in Lung Cancer: An Assessment of Magnitude, Perception, and Impact on Quality of Life”, September 1, 2019, International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Volume 105, Issue 1, pp. S20, https://www.redjournal.org/article/S0360-3016(19)31253-2/fulltext