Economic status may influence cancer treatment choices

    A Fox Chase Cancer Center researcher has found that cancer patients with lower incomes may be more likely to choose cheaper, less effective treatment options that more well-off patients.

    In a series of hypothetical scenarios, cancer patients with household incomes above $60,000 a year were more likely to choose the more expensive, most effective cancer treatment than their lower-income counterparts.

    That is according to new research by Fox Chase Cancer Center’s Dr. Yu-Ning Wong.

    “Of the higher income patients, 24 percent of these patients identified high survival as their dominant preference,” Wong said of one of the study groups.

    That was true for only 11 percent of lower-income patients in the same group, Wong said.

    “Many cancer patients are now facing higher levels of cost-sharing for their treatments, and this really may be affecting their choice to proceed with different types of treatment,” Wong said. “I think we have to understand how this might affect their treatment decision and be able to help counsel patients more effectively.”

    The 400 test patients surveyed in Philadelphia and Vineland, N.J., were almost exclusively insured, and the costs cited were out-of-pocket expenses.

    Wong is presenting her findings at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago Tuesday.

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