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Cost-Conscious Cancer Survivors Skip Care
Date:6/14/2010

Research suggests millions are going without needed medical services

MONDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- Millions of Americans with a history of cancer, particularly people under age 65, are delaying or skimping on medical care because of worries about the cost of treatment, a new study suggests.

The finding raises troubling questions about the long-term survival and quality of life of the 12 million adults in the United States whose lives have been forever changed by a diagnosis of cancer.

"I think it's concerning because we recognize that cancer survivors have many medical needs that persist for years after their diagnosis and treatment," said study lead author Kathryn E. Weaver, an assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences & Health Policy at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The report was published online June 14 in Cancer, a journal of the American Cancer Society.

Cost concerns have posed a threat to cancer survivorship for some time, particularly with the advent of new, life-prolonging treatments.

Dr. Patricia Ganz, a professor in the Department of Health Services at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Health, served on the Institute of Medicine committee that wrote the 2005 report, From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition.

"One of the things that we really emphasized was lack of insurance, particularly for follow-up care," she said.

CancerCare, a New York City-based nonprofit support group for cancer patients, provides co-payment assistance for certain cancer medications.

"Cancer is a vey expensive disease and it's becoming more and more expensive," said Jeanie M. Barnett, CancerCare's director of communications. "The costs of the drugs are going up. So, too, is the proportion that the patient pays out of pocket," she said.


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