Pain Increases as Finances Disappear for Lung and Colon Cancer Patients

Pain Increases as Finances Disappear for Lung and Colon Cancer Patients

People with lung or colon cancer with little financial reserves will likely suffer more pain and even worse symptoms than those who have sufficient savings, a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology says.

These cancer sufferers with little finances also experienced significantly poorer quality of life than those who had more than a year of funds.

Researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Duke University School of Medicine, University of Michigan, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health interviewed patients with colorectal or lung cancer diagnoses about their financial strain, quality of life, and symptom severity. A total of 3,419 patients participated in the interviews, which were conducted 4 and 12 months after diagnosis.

Study participants reported greater symptom burden, worse quality of life, and higher degrees of reported pain when limited financial reserves were identified.

Of the participants, 40% with lung cancer and 33% with colorectal cancer reported some degree of financial strain (defined as having fiscal reserves equal to or less than 2 months).

The study’s authors wrote, “Relative to patients with more than 12 months of financial reserves, those with limited financial reserves reported significantly increased pain (adjusted mean difference, 5.03 [95% CI, 3.29 to 7.22] and 3.45 [95% CI, 1.25 to 5.66], respectively, for lung and colorectal), greater symptom burden (5.25 [95% CI, 3.29 to .22] and 5.31 [95% CI, 3.58 to 7.04]), and poorer QOL (4.70 [95% CI, 2.82 to 6.58] and 5.22 [95% CI, 3.61 to 6.82]).”

The study concluded, ‘Patients with cancer and limited financial reserves are more likely to have higher symptom burden and decreased QOL. Assessment of financial reserves may help identify patients who need intensive support.”

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Authored by: Staff

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For a multitude of reasons stress negatively impacts health and pain levels. Stress is more likely to render my seizure medication useless. Stress causes hormones to go nuts. Stress causes tension which strains already hurting bodies. The financial and emotional impact of pain and disease is not properly addressed in this society. Money should be the last worry of the sick but we will never have a society that affords anyone this break. Poverty kills.

Jean Price

I’d say this isn’t at all surprising, since stress has long been known to increase pain due to a variety of biological factors. Plus finances play a pivotal role in wellness. If we define wellness as a stool with many sound “legs” necessary for real health and wellness, let’s say…..emotional, physical, mental, social/family relationships, finances, housing, transportation, and spirituality…you have a soundly supported piece, one which will hold any amount of added weight in terms of what life brings. Yet kick out a leg or two, and things get unsteady. Add in other problem to weaken another leg, and it gets really unbalanced. Kick out more and…it’s at risk of toppling! Some legs are next to each other, so they’re affected by the closest ones. Take transportation…not hard to call a cab, but it takes money to pay for it, or money for gas and insurance and car payments. So if finances aren’t healthy, this can add to other areas of stress on the legs supporting each person, threatening their entire wellness. Plus medicines and treatments cost money, as does insurance…and housing. And soon you’re flat on your face because too many legs are not sound or in fact broken!! To live a quality life with pain, we often compensate in some areas…less spending, less treatments, more spirituality, more relationships like those we find in advocacy groups. Yet, there is a limit to compensating, and it has ripple effects that can be risky. Money certainly would be worthless to increase the quality of life if our relationships and our emotional health is impaired. And money can’t change the diagnosis of a life long physical ailment! Spiritual health isn’t usually helpful for buying medicines without money either. So life with pain, as with any long term, life-limiting condition, can be a constant struggle to maintain some semblance of balance and wellness in orderto have a quality life with perhaps some joy! We are constantly “putting out fires”…addressing which ever leg is shaking the worst!! It’s not impossible, but it takes lots of energy, AND compassionate, well aimed support. That’s something we’re a little short on these days. I’m amazed with all the advocacy groups there hasn’t been some combined effort to fundraise for helping patients in crisis. I also am amazed at the level of injustice, yet not one of the groups has tried to band together to take legal actions! To my knowledge, that is. I’d say we have a well documented case of abuse, failure to hold to the contract of providing appropriate health care, discrimination, slander, bullying, and practicing without a medical license (for those in government, the CDC, and the DEA especially!!), to name a few crimes! I am pretty optimistic, if you can add in being a realist…yet I believe our only hope lies in a more radical move to push pain to the foreground in both the eyes of the government and the public…in a way that is truthful and not weighted down with with… Read more »

Carla Cheshire

This story really bothers me. I’ve been a cancer patient. It’s not enough that you have to worry about the disease and whether the treatment will work, but have the added burden of “How on earth am I going to pay for my treatment and drugs?” Even having insurance. Cancer drugs are some of the most expensive drugs. One I had to take 8 times was $8100 a dose! You feel as if your life is being held for ransom. Clearly this added stress impacts one’s wellness. In every other industrialized country this is not even a question. Healthcare is part of being a citizen. It’s paid for. Germany has had universal health care since the 1890’s! What is wrong with this country that we can’t stand up and have universal health care for all our people?
Are big insurance, big pharma, big hospitals all so entrenched in our government that there is no way to break their hold? Our system has fallen to 37th by WHO standards and we pay more for health care here than anywhere else. You can’t find the cost of a procedure before you have it. There is no way to compare prices. Why? I feel like we the people are being extorted. No other industry gets away with this ambiguity. It’s high time for a change.