Young Cancer Survivors Say Costs Hinder Follow-Up Care

MONDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Many teen and young adult cancer survivors in the United States go without routine medical care because it's too expensive, a new study finds.

Medical care in the years after a cancer diagnosis is important for detecting any long-term health effects associated with cancer treatment, said Anne Kirchhoff, of the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and her colleagues.

They looked at national survey responses from nearly 1,000 adults aged 20 to 39, who were diagnosed with cancer between the ages of 15 and 34. It had been at least five years since their diagnosis. The cancer survivors were compared with more than 67,000 young adults with no history of cancer.

The cancer survivors and those without cancer had similar rates of uninsurance (21 percent and 23 percent, respectively), but cancer survivors were 67 percent more likely to forgo routine medical care in the previous year because of costs.

Medical care cost barriers were especially high for cancer survivors aged 20 to 29 (44 percent vs. 16 percent of the control group), female cancer survivors (35 percent vs. 18 percent) and survivors who reported poorer health.

The study was published online Sept. 24 in the journal Cancer.

"The Affordable Care Act is an important step to ensuring that adolescent and young adult cancer survivors have health insurance coverage and improving their health care access," Kirchhoff said in a journal news release. "However, they need to be educated about the importance of regular health care to monitor for late effects."

"Furthermore, even the insured survivors in our study reported unmet health care needs due to cost barriers, suggesting that adolescent and young adult cancer survivors need resource supports beyond health insurance," she added.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: Cancer, news release, Sept. 24, 2012