costs associated with head and neck cancer treatment
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BackgroundOut-of-pocket costs (OOPC) associated with treatment have significant implications on quality of life and survival in cancer patients. Head and neck cancer patients face unique treatment-related challenges, but to date OOPC have been understudied in this population.
AimsThis study aims to identify and measure OOPC for patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) in Ontario.
MethodsHNC patients between 2015 and 2018 at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto were recruited. Participants completed OOPC questionnaires and lost income questions during radiation, post-surgery, and 3, 6, 12, and 24 months after completion of treatment. Associations between OOPC and treatment modality and disease site were tested with multivariable hurdle regression.
ResultsA total of 1545 questionnaires were completed by 657 patients. Median estimated OOPC for the total duration of treatment for participants undergoing chemoradiation was $1452 [$0-14 616], for surgery with adjuvant radiation or chemoradiation (C/RT) was $1626, for radiation therapy alone was $635, and for surgery alone was $360. The major expenses for participants at the mid-treatment time-point was travel (mean $424, standard error of the mean [SEM] $34) and meals, parking, and accommodations (mean $617, SEM $67). In multivariable analysis, chemoradiation, surgery with C/RT, and radiation were associated with significantly higher OOPC than surgery alone during treatment (791% higher, p < .001; 539% higher, p < .001; 370% higher, p < .001 respectively) among patients with non-zero OOPC. Participants with non-zero OOPC in the laryngeal cancer group paid 49% lower OOPC than those with oropharyngeal cancers in adjusted analysis (p = .025).
ConclusionsPatients undergoing treatment for HNC pay significant OOPC. These costs are highest during treatment and gradually decrease over time. OOPC vary by patient demographics, clinical factors, and, in particular, treatment modality.