Financial Impact of Breast Cancer in Black Versus White Women

Purpose
Racial variation in the financial impact of cancer may contribute to observed differences in the use of guideline-recommended treatments. We describe racial differences with regard to the financial impact of breast cancer in a large population-based prospective cohort study.

Methods
The Carolina Breast Cancer Study oversampled black women and women younger than age 50 years with incident breast cancer in North Carolina from 2008 to 2013. Participants provided medical records and data regarding demographics, socioeconomic status, and financial impact of cancer at 5 and 25 months postdiagnosis. We report unadjusted and adjusted financial impact at 25 months postdiagnosis by race.

Results
The sample included 2,494 women who completed follow-up surveys (49% black, 51% white). Since diagnosis, 58% of black women reported any adverse financial impact of cancer (v 39% of white women; P , .001). In models adjusted for age, stage at diagnosis, and treatment received, black women were more likely to report adverse financial impact attributable to cancer (adjusted risk difference [aRD], +14 percentage points; P , .001), including income loss (aRD, +10 percentage points; P , .001), health care-related financial barriers (aRD, +10 percentage points; P , .001), health care-related transportation barriers (aRD, +10 percentage points; P , .001), job loss (aRD, 6 percentage points; P , .001), and loss of health insurance (aRD, +3 percentage points; P , .001). The effect of race was attenuated when socioeconomic factors were included but remained significant for job loss, transportation barriers, income loss, and overall financial impact.

Conclusion
Compared with white women, black women with breast cancer experience a significantly worse financial impact. Disproportionate financial strain may contribute to higher stress, lower treatment compliance, and worse outcomes by race. Policies that help to limit the effect of cancer-related financial strain are needed.

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Citation:
 Wheeler, S.B., Spencer, J.C., Pinheiro, L.C., Carey, L.A., Olshan, A.F., & Reeder-Hayes, K.E. (2018). Financial impact of breast cancer in black versus white women. Journal of Clinical Oncology. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2017.77.6310.