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Are cancer patients reluctant to talk about the costs of treatment?

Category: Cancer Detection and Tumor Markers

Cancer treatments can be costly, which is why many individuals prefer to take lab tests outside of a traditional healthcare setting. Doing so can ensure that people gain results and greater insight into their own health and wellness.

However, many individuals are unaware of the benefits of undergoing a FSH test or other related procedure outside of a clinical environment. These patients may continue to get assistance solely from doctors, but may be hesitant to ask about the costs of treatment up front, according to a recent study by the Duke Cancer Institute.

According to researchers, some people express fears that discussing their financial reservations about treatment will compromise the quality of care that they receive from healthcare providers. However, bringing these concerns up may be beneficial in more ways than one.

"Even my patients with insurance were asking for less expensive medications and less frequent visits [since they couldn't afford the travel costs]," said study lead author Yousuf Zafar, M.D., an assistant professor at the Duke Cancer Institute. "There's this undercurrent of expenses that patients are facing that often goes unseen."

Researchers recruited about 300 patients who were being treated at clinics in North Carolina, as well as Duke Health. They learned that more than half of the individuals taking part in the study wanted to discuss the costs of treatment options with medical staff, but less than 20 percent actually did so.

Surprisingly, 57 percent of participants who did discuss their financial reservations with healthcare professionals found that doing so helped them find more economical alternatives for treatment. This suggests more people should be forthright about their concerns.

According to the American Cancer Society, the overall expenses of cancer treatment can be hefty, but for those who plan ahead and have health insurance, the impact may be less substantial.

Individuals being treated for cancer typically undergo office visits, lab tests, imaging tests, procedures for treatment or diagnosis, medication costs and lengthy home care. Speaking with a healthcare professional about financial planning can be beneficial for relieving some of the financial strain of this life event.

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