Financial toxicity is the term doctors use to describe the burden that costly cancer treatments places on patients, Zafar explained. Patients cut back on food and clothing to pay for cancer care, they go into debt, declare bankruptcy or use up their retirement savings.
Studies show that even small differences in out-of-pocket expenses can impact how patients take their medication. For example, monthly copays higher than $50 can influence a patient’s decision to not take their drugs as prescribed.
“We have to discuss these red flags in clinic to make sure the treatments we are prescribing are not causing financial toxicity,” he said.