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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
AAZ conceived of the study, conducted the literature search, designed the study and formulated the questionnaire and drafted the main manuscript. AK collected and entered the data and did the initial analysis. TZA did the thorough analysis, applied statistical tests of significance, edited and reviewed the entire manuscript. TZA also responded to the reviewer’s comments and maintained the correspondence. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
The emotional burden associated with the diagnosis of cancer is sometimes overshadowed by financial burden sustained by patient and the family. This is especially relevant for a developing country as there is limited state support for cancer treatment. We conducted this study to estimate the cost of cancer care for two major types of cancer and to assess the perception of patients and families regarding the burden of the cost for undergoing cancer treatment at a private tertiary care hospital.
This cross-sectional study was conducted at day care and radiotherapy unit of Aga Khan University, Hospital (AKUH) Karachi, Pakistan. All adult patients with breast and head & neck cancers diagnosed for 3 months or more were included. Data was collected using a structured questionnaire and analysed using SPSS.
Sixty seven patients were interviewed during the study period. The mean and median monthly income of these patients was 996.4 USD and 562.5 USD respectively. Comparatively the mean and median monthly cost of cancer care was 1093.13 USD and 946.42 USD respectively. The cost of the treatment either fully or partially was borne by the family in most cases (94%). The financial burden of cancer was perceived as significant by 28 (42%) patients and unmanageable by 18 (27%) patients. This perceived level of burden was associated significantly with average monthly income (p = <0.001).
Our study indicates that the financial burden of cancer care is substantial and can be overwhelming. There is a desperate need for treatment support programs either by the government or other welfare organisations to support individuals and families who are already facing a difficult and challenging situation.