Cancer Patients Rationing Drugs, Therapy

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 (UPI) — Most U.S. oncologists report putting more time and effort in the past six months into financial planning for patients’ cancer therapy, a survey indicates.

The survey of 106 U.S. oncologists, conducted Aug. 20-30 by the physician’s Web site MDLinx, indicates a rise in patient concerns over treatment costs in the past six months. Sixty-seven percent of the doctors report patients rationed medications or went without treatment due to financial and insurance coverage concerns.

“We believe that the change in the air in the United States regarding medical coverage has injected an additional measure of anxiety for what is already often the most anxious times of these people’s lives,” Aki Tomaru, chief executive officer of M3 USA, which owns the MDLinx sites, says in a statement. “In addition, the continuing grinding effect of the worldwide economic downturn has its obvious effects as well.”

A Wisconsin-based oncologist, Dr. Shahid Shekhani, says patients are canceling appointments, follow-up visits, and even treatment because of finances.

“I just had a young grandmother, in her 60s, halt lung cancer treatment that would have extended her survival in order to preserve her family’s finances and her ability to leave an inheritance to her children,” he said.

No further survey details were provided.

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