Background: Current literature suggests that racial/ethnic minority survivors may be more likely than whites to experience economic hardship after a cancer diagnosis; however, little is known about such hardship.
Methods: Patients with lung cancer (LC) and colorectal cancer (CRC) participating in the Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance (CanCORS) Consortium were surveyed approximately 4 months (baseline) and 12 months (follow-up) after diagnosis. Economic hardship at follow-up was present if participants 1) indicated difficulty living on household income; and/or 2) for the following 2 months, anticipated experiencing hardships (inadequate housing, food, or medical attention) or reducing living standards to the bare necessities of life. The authors tested whether African Americans (AAs) and Hispanics were more likely than whites to experience economic hardship controlling for sex, age, education, marital status, cancer stage, treatment, and economic status at baseline (income, prescription drug coverage).
Results: Of 3432 survivors (39.7% with LC, 60.3% with CRC), 14% were AA, 7% were Hispanic, and 79% were white. AAs and Hispanics had lower education and income than whites. Approximately 68% of AAs, 58% of Hispanics, and 44.5% of whites reported economic hardship. In LC survivors, the Hispanic-white disparity was not significant in unadjusted or adjusted analyses, and the AA-white disparity was explained by baseline economic status. In CRC survivors, the Hispanic-white disparity was explained by baseline economic status, and the AA-white disparity was not explained by the variables that were included in the model.
Conclusions: Economic hardship was evident in almost 1 in 2 cancer survivors 1 year after diagnosis, especially AAs. Research should evaluate and address risk factors and their impact on survival and survivorship outcomes.
Keywords: African American; colorectal cancer; disparities; economic hardship; lung cancer; survivorship.
© 2015 American Cancer Society.