Large number of cancer survivors have financial woes

Surviving cancer is one challenge for victims of the disease. Surviving the financial burdens in the aftermath of the disease is another--and new research suggests there is a lot of worry on that front.

Nearly 29 percent of cancer survivors have at least one financial problem related to the diagnosis, treatment or aftermath of their disease, according to a study conducted by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University. Altogether, 21 percent of cancer survivors worried about paying large medical bills, 11.5 percent couldn't pay for their medical care visits; and 7.6 percent reported borrowing money or going into debt.

This is the latest research that reveals cancer creates financial hardship; another study has concluded that many oncology patients, even those who have insurance, can face six-figure debts after their treatment has ended.

Moreover, cancer survivors often have additional healthcare costs that can linger after disease has gone into remission, such as monitoring and other forms of follow-up care. For some forms of the disease, such as colon cancer, the costs can be more than $700 a month for the rest of the patient's life.

Those cancer survivors who had financial problems were also more likely than those without money worries to be depressed or have other psychological issues, and reported an overall lower quality of life, according to the study.

"Our results suggest that policies and practices that minimize cancer patients' out-of-pocket costs can improve survivors' health-related quality of life and psychological health," Norman Carroll, one of the study's authors, said in a statement.

To learn more:
- read the study abstract 
- check out the announcement