Index finds half of MM and CLL patients in study had financial hardship

Financial hardship during treatment for multiple myeloma (MM) or chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) was associated with lower levels of education, income below $60,000, and multiple comorbidities.

Addressing the financial challenges of patients receiving treatment for blood cancers is a growing concern as the number and complexity of treatment regimens increase, according to the authors of a study presented last month at the 2022 annual meeting of the ‘American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The authors recruited 521 adult patients with multiple myeloma (MM) or chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) to answer questions from a well-known survey, the European Organization for Research and Development’s Quality of Life Questionnaire. cancer therapy (EORTC QLQ-C30) .

According to the authors, financial difficulty was measured by a single previously validated question of the questionnaire, and a composite measure of 5 questions of the questionnaire.

Of the 521 patients, 416 patients responded to all or part of the survey for an overall response rate of 79.8%. To the single question, 16.8% of respondents reported experiencing financial difficulties; on the 5-question composite index, 58.6% reported experiencing financial difficulties.

Patients who reported financial hardship on both measures said their household income was less than $60,000 and their highest level of education was a high school diploma or general education. According to the authors, the patients “had more than one medical comorbidity and were using an expensive oral chemotherapeutic agent.” The mean number of comorbidities was 5.1.

Overall, 45.8% of respondents earned less than $60,000; 75.7% of respondents to the single question earned less than $60,000, while 58.2% of those who said they struggled on the 5-question index earned less than $60,000.

Survey data showed that 89 (28.9%) of respondents had private insurance, while 100 (32.5%) of respondents had public insurance. Of those with public insurance, 37.1% responded positively to the only validated question on financial hardship and 37.3% reported hardship based on the 5-question index. Among those with private insurance, 37.1% said they answered positively to the single question and 26.2% said they had financial difficulties according to the 5-question index.

Of the respondents, 42.9% had a high school diploma or GED, but of those who reported financial hardship on the single question, 62.9% had a high school diploma or GED; while 50.4% of respondents identified by the 5-part index had a high school diploma or GED.

On the other hand, 16.2% of all respondents had a bachelor’s degree, but only 11.4% of those who answered the single question and 14.3% of those who answered the composite question, who had more than a bachelor’s degree, have identified as having financial difficulties.

Therapeutants included in the definition of “expensive oral therapeutic agents” included: ixazomib citrate, lenalidomide, panobinostat, pomalidomide, thalidomide, chlorambucil, ibrutinib, idelalsib, and venetoclax.

Blood cancer patients treated at NCI-affiliated sites encountered difficulties, the authors said. “The results of this study are intended to inform physician, site-of-care, and policy efforts to improve access in cancer patients,” the authors wrote.


Conti RM, McCue S, Dockter T, et al. Self-reported financial hardship in patients with multiple myeloma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia: a study from the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology. J Clin Oncol. 2022;40(suppl_16):Abstr 6602.doi:10.1200/JCO.2022.40.16_suppl.6602

About Hector Hedgepeth

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