Financial Troubles Could Lead to Cancers Diagnosed at Later Stage

By   |  February 7, 2024

By Ernie Mundell HealthDay Reporter  |  Copyright © 2024 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 7, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Folks squeezed financially may find themselves shut out from medical care, leading to delayed cancer diagnoses, a new report finds.

A full third of cancer patients suffered some form of recent financial hardship -- a bankruptcy, lien or eviction -- prior to their diagnosis, according to research led by the American Cancer Society and the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

These patients were more likely to be diagnosed with a cancer in its later stages, when tumors are tougher to treat, the investigators said.

Folks in tough financial straits "not only face greater likelihood of more advanced cancer, but also may encounter substantial barriers to receiving recommended care and experience worse health outcomes for their newly diagnosed cancer because of their preexisting financial vulnerability," added senior study author Dr. Robin Yabroff, scientific vice president of health services research at the American Cancer Society.

The new findings were published Feb. 5 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

In the research, Yabroff and colleagues looked at the histories of almost 102,000 U.S. cancer patients ages 21 to 69. All were diagnosed between 2014 and 2015.

Court records were accessed to document and identify patients with what the researchers called "adverse financial events."

More than a third (36%) of the patients did experience such a blow to their finances prior to their cancer diagnosis, the study found. Money troubles were more common among single people than marrieds, among Black Americans than whites and among low-income people.

However, even among those folks in higher income brackets, 27% had experienced some form of adverse financial event prior to their diagnosis.

The new findings might point to solutions that could help people get earlier diagnoses of cancer, regardless of their financial situation, Yabroff said in an ACS news release.

"Understanding patients’ financial vulnerability within healthcare settings may inform efforts to improve equitable access to oncology care," she said.

More information

There's more on cancer staging at the National Cancer Institute.

SOURCE: American Cancer Society, news release, Feb. 5, 2024