A house of cards: the impact of treatment costs on women with breast and ovarian cancer

Cancer Nurs. Nov-Dec 2008;31(6):470-7. doi: 10.1097/01.NCC.0000339255.75947.a8.


Although much work has been done to quantify the direct and indirect costs of cancer treatment, little is known regarding how these costs impact the daily lives of persons undergoing active treatment of cancer. Content analysis performed on open-ended interviews with 22 women in 3 income categories undergoing chemotherapy for a diagnosis of breast or ovarian cancer revealed 7 themes. Most participants stated that they felt "lucky" or "thankful" that most of the treatment costs were being covered by insurance or personal income. Women also described receiving financial assistance from friends, family, and support organizations and stated that they often made trade-offs between paying for regular family expenses and paying for treatment-related expenses. Worry about future financial expenses and frustrations dealing with regulatory agencies were also pervasive in the interviews. Finally, participants described having to access retirement/savings accounts and voiced concerns regarding the impact of cancer treatment on their work income. Data from the study illuminate the personal impact of cancer costs and suggest that interventions to assist women with cancer in financial planning and negotiating with insurance companies may offset some of the financial burden of cancer treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / economics*
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / economics*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Qualitative Research
  • Tape Recording