Measuring Financial Burden of Curable Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer is the fifth most common malignancy worldwide and combined modality treatment, including surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy has been successful in achieving cure rates greater than 80% at 5 years. Yet, head and neck cancer has the potential to dismantle a person’s life, with acute toxicities, such as disfigurement of facial features, and several long term ones, such as difficulty with eating, swallowing, and speaking. We thus hypothesize that these patients undergo a substantial financial strain in the form of non-reimbursable out-of-pockets costs, secondary to their disease and its management. This proposal aims to apply several previously validated survey instruments in a comprehensive way to assess the financial burden of curable head and neck cancer and its management in a clinical trial. This instrument could be adapted and applied to other cancers, and information collected would also provide invaluable data to policymakers and those directly treating head and neck cancer patients on how to better support them during treatment. The overarching goal of this pilot project is to generate preliminary data that will allows us to expand the survey instruments to larger groups of patients and suggest effective interventions to mitigate the financial impact of cancer while bridging the disparities gap of cancer care.