Financial Toxicity Is Common With Gynecologic Cancers

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APRIL 02, 2020 — More than one-fifth of patients being treated for gynecologic malignancies experience financial toxicity, results of a single-center study suggest.

Among 5,188 patients treated for gynecologic cancers, 1,155 (22%) experienced financial toxicity, measured by bills sent to collection, financial assistance, bankruptcy, or similar measures, reported Emeline Aviki, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York, and colleagues.

“In any clinical study reporting that over 20% of patients develop a serious complication as a result of treatment, financial toxicity in this case, future efforts to address the complication are critically important,” Dr. Aviki said in an interview.

Her group’s study is detailed in an abstract that had been slated for presentation at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology’s Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer. The meeting was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Study Details

To address financial problems patients with gynecologic cancer face, MSKCC assembled a multidisciplinary team that included the strategy and innovation department, the patient financial services department, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and surgical oncologists.

The team’s first priority was to measure the prevalence of financial burden among the center’s patients using readily available institutional data. Financial toxicity was defined as one or more of the following:

  • Two or more bills sent for collection.

  • Application for and granting of a time-payment plan.

  • Bill settlement.

  • Bankruptcy.

  • Enrollment in a financial assistance plan.

  • Finance-related social work visit.

In a univariate analysis, factors significantly associated with financial toxicity, and the proportion of patients in each category affected, included cervical cancer (31%), stage 3 (29%) or 4 disease (27%), age younger than 30 years (32%), nonpartnered marital status (28%), black (38%) or Hispanic (33%) race/ethnicity, self-pay (42%) or commercial insurance (26%), clinical trial participation (27%), nine or more imaging studies (33%), one or more emergency department visits (31%), inpatient stays of 20 days or longer (35%), and 20 or more outpatient clinic visits (35%).

In a multivariate analysis controlling for disease and demographics, factors that remained significantly associated with financial toxicity (P < .05) included younger age, nonpartnered marital status, black and Hispanic race/ethnicity, commercial insurance, more imaging studies, and more outpatient physician visits.

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