According to a new study, researchers at Roswell Health set out “to assess the association between financial toxicity”—meaning their worry over finances— “and survival in patients with head and neck cancer (HNC).” They found that patients “reported baseline financial toxicity was significantly correlated with both decreased overall and cancer specific survival,” say the authors. “These significant correlations held after match pairing. Further research is warranted to investigate the impact of financial toxicity in HNC and mitigate its risk.” Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
One of the doctors behind the research puts it another way: “Does financial worry impact survival? The answer is, resoundingly, yes,” says study senior author Anurag Singh, MD, Professor of Oncology and Director of Radiation Research at Roswell Park. “The association we found was very strong, and very concerning. If you are worried about your finances, your risk of dying is roughly double.”
“We know head and neck cancer patients have the highest level of financial burden among any cancer patients because these are cancers where you can need surgery as well as extended courses of chemotherapy and radiation, along with substantial supportive care and rehabilitation,” he continued. “Many patients are unwell enough they cannot go to work, which creates additional stress and uncertainty. And we now know that this financial toxicity affects not just their mental and emotional well-being but their physical health, how they respond to cancer treatment.”
Roswell reports that “the findings were inspired by earlier work led by Roswell Park Interim Chair of Immunology Elizabeth Repasky, Ph.D., a co-author on the new study, demonstrating that chronic stress can limit the effectiveness of cancer treatment.”
“These studies reveal the importance of stressful factors that are often hidden and beyond the control of the patient or caregiver in treatment outcome,” says Dr. Repasky, who is also the Dr. William Huebsch Professor in Immunology at Roswell Park.
“Financial toxicity could be a major unknown factor that could be affecting the results of even major clinical trials,” adds Dr. Singh. “We want everyone to be aware of these impacts. Doctors should consider how financial toxicity may be impacting their patients and do everything we can to improve our patients’ quality of life, and we want to encourage patients to take advantage of financial counseling and every other resource that can lessen their burden.” Keep that in mind, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.