“Many Australians affected by cancer experience a significant financial burden, which can lead to physical and psychological harm and adversely impact treatment decisions and cancer outcomes – but we need a roadmap to address these issues and tackle cancer-related financial toxicity.” That will be the key message of a symposium hosted by the Financial Toxicity Working Group at the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia’s 50th Annual Scientific Meeting this afternoon.
It is not uncommon for patients diagnosed with cancer to experience a more than 40% reduction in disposable income due to reduced hours worked combined with an increase in out of pocket costs in medical costs. Despite the known negative psychological and physical impacts of financial toxicity on people affected by cancer, it is only in recent years that financial toxicity has become a priority for clinicians, researchers, and health services to address.
In May of this year COSA’s Financial Toxicity Working Group held a Think Tank of some 40 health professionals, consumers, researchers and policy makers, aimed at identifying solutions to address the financial burden associated with cancer treatment and to develop a roadmap for addressing this financial toxicity.
Prof Raymond Chan, Incoming Deputy Vice Chancellor – Research at Flinders University, Chaired the Think Tank and will present its outcomes at today’s symposium: “We have articulated the problem of financial toxicity for a number of years now, it is time for Australia to think about solutions and act on them”
Financial Toxicity co-chair, Megan Varlow (Director of Cancer Control Policy at Cancer Council Australia) said “COSA’s Roadmap to Reducing Financial Toxicity provides the opportunity to coordinate action and see real progress to address financial toxicity in cancer in Australia.”
A survey of 277 health professionals showed that those on the frontline of cancer care feel they lack sufficient formal training and appropriate referral services to assist patients through complex financial issues and laws. Dr Jordana McCloone (Psycho-oncologist at University of NSW and Sydney Children’s Hospital), who led that study, and who will also present at today’s symposium, said of the results, “Australian clinicians consistently reported wanting to help more, but felt that a lack of resources left them without answers or solutions to patient’s financial concerns. ‘I want to help, but lack the resources.’ ’”
Increased cancer-specific financial counselling and advocacy, via developing health professionals’ skills – or even through the creation of dedicated roles – is urgently needed within the healthcare system. As Prof Chan says, “This is a critical time for Australia to address this wicked problem for people affected by cancer”.
Session: Building a roadmap to address the financial toxicity of cancer in Australia
When: Friday 3 November 7:15–8:45am
Where: Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
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