- Scientists say lower smoking rates, earlier detection, and better drugs are responsible for a steady decline in cancer deaths since 1991.
- The U.S. cancer death rate dropped 2.2 percent in 2017 compared with 2016, a record decline that was part of a 29 percent overall drop in the cancer death rate since 1991.
- That translates to about 3 million fewer cancer deaths in the past three decades.
- But cancer patients are 2.5 times more likely to file for bankruptcy after they are diagnosed, according to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, based in Seattle.
Cancer patients are living longer but it comes with financial pain. Among the financial pain points are the high tab for therapies, out-of-pocket insurance costs and loss of work during and after treatment, said Dr. Veena Shankaran, clinician and co-director of the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research at Fred Hutch.
Consider these statistics:
- 62 percent of cancer patients report being in debt due to their treatment.
- 55 percent accrue at least $10,000 in debt, while 3 percent file for bankruptcy.
- Cancer costs exceed $80 billion in America each year.
Cancer is costly, emotionally and socially. But it’s especially pricey in terms of money. The stress of being unable to pay for treatment doesn’t help your immune system while going through chemotherapy or radiation. It’s impossible to relieve yourself of tension when your medical costs are bankrupting you and your family.
Of the 9.5 million cancer diagnoses studied between 2000–2012, researchers discovered that 42.4 percent of patients (median age 68.6±9.4 years) spent all of their money, averaging $92,098. This follows disturbing news from earlier this year that 40 percent of Americans can’t afford to pay $400 in case of an emergency. The math is not adding up.
A 2016 systematic review of 45 studies, published in Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found that up to 62 percent of patients report being in debt due to treatment. Another study of over 4,700 patients from that year discovered that 55 percent accrued at least $10,000 in debt, while 3 percent filed for bankruptcy.
Cancer costs exceed $80 billion in America each year. Over half of all cancer patients “experienced house repossession, bankruptcy, loss of independence, and relationship breakdowns.” Up to 85 percent of patients have to stop working for up to six months, putting further strain on their finances.
Family members shouldn’t have to worry about the cost of treatment when diagnosed but here in the U.S., it’s about the profit” of healthcare and shareholders, not people.