Financial Toxicity

Financial Toxicity – How is CARE intervening?

CARE understands that in order to reduce cancer burdens, financial toxicity must be addressed and that it will take multiple solutions to tackle financial toxicity.  Patients and families have said that daily necessities like transportation, food, utilities, rent and mortgage, etc. can be a bigger burden than the cost of care and copays.  It is especially detrimental to their health and their family’s quality of life when expenses have risen and income has dropped.  Where do they turn?  As a nonprofit organization, CARE can assist with non-medical financial needs to improve quality of life and promote survival.  Most patients CARE has helped has provided assistance to them for 3 to 6 months, all based on what each patient says will benefit them most.  Some patients choose assistance that will help them more months, which has been up to 10 months.  CARE is part of the solution of financial toxicity with the goal of improving patient health outcomes.

Financial Toxicity: Harmful Side Effects of Cancer Treatment – National Cancer Institute

The financial distress caused by the cost of cancer care can cause patients to lose their homes or jobs. For patients, it can affect the livelihood of their families and, often, can leave debt as their legacy long after their deaths.

Financial Toxicity of Cancer Treatment

According to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health:    financial toxicity (fy-NAN-shul tok-SIH-sih-tee) In medicine, a term used to describe problems a patient has related to the cost of medical care. Not having health insurance or having a lot of costs for medical care not covered by health insurance can cause financial problems and may lead to debt and bankruptcy. Financial toxicity can also affect a patient’s quality of life and access to medical care. For example, a patient may not take a prescription medicine or may avoid going to the doctor to save money. Cancer patients are more likely to have financial toxicity than people without cancer. Also called economic burden, economic hardship, financial burden, financial distress, financial hardship, and financial stress.

Financial Toxicity of Cancer Care:  It’s Time to Intervene, S. Yousuf Zafar

Evidence suggests that a considerably large proportion of cancer patients are affected by treatment-related financial harm.  At least three factors might explain the relationship between financial distress and greater risk of mortality (Figure 1):  1) poorer subjective well-being, 2) impaired health-related quality of life, and 3) sub-par quality of care.  Evidence suggests that poor subjective well-being might impact health outcomes including survival.

How Does Financial Toxicity Worsen Outcomes?  

Three factors that might explain the relationship between extreme financial distress and greater risk of mortality.

S. Yousuf Zafar: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 108, Issue 5, May 2016, djv370,


How Should We Intervene on the Financial Toxicity of Cancer Care? One Shot, Four Perspectives.

Author information

From the Duke Cancer Institute, Durham, NC; UnitedHealth Group, Minneapolis, MN; Pfizer, New York, NY; National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, Washington, DC; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; New York, NY.


The median price of a month of chemotherapy has increased by an order of magnitude during the past 20 years, far exceeding inflation over the same period. Along with rising prices, increases in cost sharing have forced patients to directly shoulder a greater portion of those costs, resulting in undue financial burden and, in some cases, cost-related nonadherence to treatment. What can we do to intervene on treatment-related financial toxicity of patients? No one party can single-handedly solve the problem, and the solution must be multifaceted and creative. A productive discussion of the problem must avoid casting blame and, instead, must look inward for concrete starting points toward improvement in the affordability and value of cancer care. With these points in mind, the authors-representatives from the pharmaceutical industry, insurance providers, oncologists, and patient advocacy-have each been asked to respond with a practical answer to the provocative hypothetical question, “If you could propose one thing, and one thing only, in terms of an action or change by the constituency you represent in this discussion, what would that be?”

CARE’s response is:  “CARE’s one thing of action is to assist local cancer patients with financial assistance.  CARE will assist cancer patients who reside in Las Cruces and Doña Ana County who have recently been diagnosed with any type of cancer and are in active treatment to cure, shrink or stop the progression of their cancer.  CARE will provide financial assistance for non-medical needs, basic living needs for a specified period of time while they are receiving active treatment:  chemotherapy, radiation or surgery.  Assistance is provided so that local cancer patients can concentrate on treatment, healing, recovery and survival.  CARE’s goal is to be part of the solution to improve patient health outcomes.”