Is cancer history associated with assets, debt, and net worth in the United States?

Maryam Doroudi*, Diarmuid Coughlan, Matthew P. Banegas, Xuesong Han, K. Robin Yabroff

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Financial hardships experienced by cancer survivors have become a prominent public health issue in the United States. Few studies of financial hardship have assessed financial holdings, including assets, debts, and their values, associated with a cancer history. Methods: Using the 2008-2011 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, we identified 1603 cancer survivors and 34 915 individuals age 18-64 years without a cancer history to assess associations between self-reported cancer history and assets, debts, and net worth. Distributions of self-reported asset and debt ownership, their values, and net worth were compared for adults with and without a cancer history with chi-square statistics. Multivariable ordered probit regression analysis was conducted to assess the association between cancer history and net worth using a two-sided Wald test. All analyses were stratified by age group (18-34, 35-44, 45-54, and 55-64 years). Statistical tests were two-sided. Results: Among those age 45-54 years, cancer survivors had a lower proportion of home ownership than individuals without a cancer history (59.0% vs 67.1%, P = .0014) and were statistically significantly more likely to have negative net worth (≤- $3000) and less likely to have positive net worth (≥$3000). Cancer survivors were more likely to have debt than individuals without a cancer history, especially among those age 18-34 years (41.3% vs 27.1%, P < .001). Conclusions: Cancer history is associated with lower asset ownership, more debt, and lower net worth, especially in survivors age 45-54 years. Longitudinal studies of financial holdings will be important to inform development of interventions to reduce financial hardship.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberpky004
JournalJNCI Cancer Spectrum
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018

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© The Author(s) 2018.

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