Fuel, beds, meals and meds: out-of-pocket expenses for patients with cancer in rural Queensland

Louisa G Gordon, Megan Ferguson, Suzanne K Chambers and Jeff Dunn

Objective: Cancer patients who travel long distances to access medical services face considerable disruption and personal financial cost. This study quantified the financial cost of receiving cancer treatment for individuals residing in regional, rural and remote locations. Method: Adults diagnosed or treated for cancer at the Townsville Hospital Cancer Centre within the last 30 months who most recently presented to the cancer centre within the previous six months were recruited to this cross-sectional study (n=439). Direct out-of-pocket expenses relating to travel, accommodation and other expenses were estimated together with financial support received. Bootstrapping statistics assessed significant subgroup differences in costs with 95% confidence intervals. Results: Over an average period of 16 months since diagnosis, net out-of-pocket expenses of $1.8 million were reported for 410 regional men and women relating to their cancer treatment (mean $4311, median $2263, inter quartile range $563-$6231). Personal costs were significantly higher for participants who lived more than 100km from Townsville Hospital ($7752) and for those treated with radiation ($5135). Conclusion: Financial costs for rural cancer sufferers vary widely and may be extensive. Consideration of adequate financial support from governments and other organisations is essential if rural Australians are to continue accessing standard cancer treatment.

Cancer Council Australia’s Student Essay Competition - Multidisciplinary teams in cancer care: pros and cons

Monica Tang

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