By Kevin McManus | WFMD-AM |
The high cost of cancer treatment is on the minds of a lot of Americans. The National Cancer Opinion Survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Society of Clinical Oncology finds that 57% of respondents say they would be more concerned about paying for cancer treatment, compared to 54% who are more concerned about dying, or cancer-related pain and suffering.
“So this is a big financial burden. It’s a big emotional burden on families,” says Dr. Richard Schilsky, chief medical officer for the Society.
The survey found that among caregivers responsible for paying for cancer care for a family member, 74% say they’re concerned about affording it. Dr. Schilsky says many of them are taking drastic steps to pay for cancer treatments. “61% of the caregivers in the survey this year said they’ve started to work extra hours, postponed retirement, by taking extra jobs, or dipping into their 401K plans, simply to be sure that their family member with cancer has the financial resources to be able to receive the care that they need,” he says.
He suggests these care givers speak about their financial situation with their physicians, who may have some way for them to deal with the high cost of treatments by “modifying the treatment plan in some that still can produce a good outcome; limiting the number of tests that are performed; changing some of the supportive care regimens around,” he says.
Another concern raised in the survey comes from rural residents, and the access they have to cancer treatments. The survey found that 40% of rural Americans who have or have had cancer say there are not enough doctors in their communities who specialize in cancer treatment as opposed 22% for urban and suburban residents. They also say they typically spend an average of 50-minutes traveling one way to see their cancer physician, compared to non-rural residents, where the average is 30-minutes.
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