What is Financial Toxicity?
Financial toxicity is the emotional, mental, and physically debilitating-often-life threatening financial side effects induced by cancer treatment.


financial-toxicity“Evidence suggests that a considerably large proportion of cancer patients are affected by treatment-related financial harm. As medical debt grows for some with cancer, the downstream effects can be catastrophic, with a recent study suggesting a link between extreme financial distress and worse mortality.”

-S. Yousuf Zafar, MD
Journal of National Cancer Institute, Volume 108, Issue 5

Chemotherapy-related physical toxicity is a central focus of the cancer treatment process, but a nationwide survey shows that we need to pay attention to and create a dialog about the effects that financial burdens have on breast cancer treatment strategies and outcomes.

Financial toxicity leads to:

  • greater risk of mortality
  • overall poorer well-being
  • impaired-related quality of life
  • sub-par quality of care

The effects of financial toxicity on those in active treatment:

  • 130% increase in financial difficulties for those younger than 65 (as compared to older patients)
  • 120% increase in financial difficulties (as compared to surveyors less than 5 years post-treatment)
  • 67% increase in financial difficulties for those without insurance
  • 42% increase in financial difficulties for minorities
  • 37% of individuals make at least on work/career modification due to cancer diagnosis
  • 27% of individuals report at least one financial hardship, including: bankruptcy, debt, etc.

-2014 Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium