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ACS 2017: Can Socioeconomic Status Predict Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Survivors?

By: Cordi Craig
Posted: Wednesday, November 1, 2017

According to Anees B. Chagpar, MD, MSc, MPH, MBA, of the Yale New Haven Smilow Cancer Center, financial distress and socioeconomic status may be the strongest determinants of quality of life for cancer survivors, independent of age, race, education, insurance, and income. In addition to exploring the impact of socioeconomic status on breast cancer treatments such as breast conservation, reconstruction after mastectomy, and endocrine therapy, Dr. Chagpar discussed the findings of a survey during a session (DC09) presented at the 2017 American College of Surgeons (ACS) Clinical Congress in San Diego.

Dr. Chagpar and colleagues surveyed 2108 patients using data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey regarding the degree to which cancer caused financial problems for them. Overall, 8.6% of patients reported a large degree of financial burden. Those who reported “a lot” were more likely to report poor results for physical health, mental health, and satisfaction with social activities and relationships compared with those who reported little financial burden and four times less likely to rate their quality of life as “excellent,” “very good,” or “good.”

Thus, concluded the investigators, medical costs are not only the leading cause of bankruptcy in cancer survivors, but low socioeconomic status, regardless of race, is also a high predictor of all-cause mortality. These results demonstrate the importance of financial toxicity and socioeconomic status as predictors of quality of life, regardless of other patient characteristics.