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Why do some cancers cause more financial problems than others?

It's well-established that financial woes can follow a cancer diagnosis (and oft-pricey treatment); this summer we reported on a study showing that bankruptcy rates among cancer survivors are four times as high as the general population five years after diagnosis. The Capsules blog recently took a closer look at that study and its findings that certain cancers - specifically lung, thyroid, leukemia/lymphoma, uterine and colorectal cancers - are more likely to cause problems for patients:

Although the reasons for the higher bankruptcy rates aren’t known with certainty, study lead author Scott Ramsey, a physician and health economist at [Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center], has some ideas.

In the case of lung and thyroid cancers, it may have to do with the populations that are typically affected, says Ramsey.

Lung cancer, for example, is generally diagnosed in smokers who are more likely to be relatively low on the socioeconomic ladder, says Ramsey. Likewise, thyroid cancer is most common in women who are younger than typical cancer patients, and so may have worse or less insurance than older patients.

In the case of leukemia/lymphoma and colorectal cancers, extremely high treatment costs may be the culprit in bankruptcy filings, he says, pointing to bone marrow transplants used to treat blood cancers, and the $300,000 or higher price tag to treat advanced colorectal cancer.

Previously: Bankruptcy rates higher among cancer patients and Many cancer survivors forgo medical care because they can’t afford it

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