By Chris Kramer
Cancer treatment in the U.S. is so expensive that a significant number of survivors are often forced to file for personal bankruptcy, according to a new study released at the 2011 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting.
The study, which was conducted by researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the University of Washington and the University of Bristol, cross referenced Washington State's bankruptcy records with the medical records of cancer patients. Of the more than 230,000 in the state who had been diagnosed with cancel between 1995 and 2009, researchers found that 4,800 had filed for bankruptcy within four years of care, according to a statement on the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research website.
Compared to the general population, the study found that bankruptcy rates were almost twice as high among cancer patients one year after diagnosis.
"By linking two irrefutable government records of cancer and bankruptcy, we are able to determine how financial insolvency risk varies by cancer type, treatment and other factors," said Scott Ramsey, a member of the Hutchinson Center's Public Health Sciences Division.
By the end of 2005 cancer treatment costs in the U.S. rose to $48 billion, almost double from the $25 billion spend in 1987, according to a 2010 study. The disease accounted for 1 in 4 deaths in 2007, according to the American Cancer Society.