Financial Toxicity in Cancer Treatment

June 22, 2017

Joyce and Robin speak with Dr. Leonard Lichtenfeld, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the American Cancer Society.  They discuss a recent article by Dr. Zheng and colleagues at the American Cancer Society that appeared in their journal Cancer in May, along with an editorial by Dr. Daniel Goldstein.

“Financial toxicity is now a well established and generally accepted toxicity related to cancer care…In recent years, several reports have demonstrated the significant ifnancial issues faced by some patients with cancer.  A study in the state of Washington demonstrated that individuals with cancer are 2.7 times more likely to declare bankruptcy than individuals without cancer.  Furthermore, those who had been bankrupted had a 79% greater risk of death than patients who were not bankrupt.” [Goldstein]

We rely on the Food and Drug Administration to protect us from toxicity in our medications — the unforeseen damaging side effects that may accompany drugs intended to help.  But what additional stress, burden — and in fact toxicity — results from the cost of cancer care?  And how much is that causing damage to our mental and physical health?

Leonard Lichtenfeld, M.D., M.A.C.P., deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, is responsible for directing the Society’s Cancer Control Science department. This group of internationally recognized experts focuses on the prevention and early detection of cancer, as well as emerging science and trends in cancer. The department is responsible for producing the Society’s widely recognized guidelines for the prevention and early detection of cancer, including the role of nutrition and physical activity.

Dr. Lichtenfeld is also recognized as a resource both within and outside the Society for his expertise in oncology and medical affairs. He serves as a liaison for the Society with many professional and public organizations, and is a frequent spokesperson on behalf of the Society on a variety of cancer-related subjects.

A board-certified medical oncologist and internist who was a practicing physician for more than 19 years, Dr. Lichtenfeld has long been active in medical affairs on a local, state, and national level. He is active in several state and national medical organizations.

Dr. Lichtenfeld is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Hahnemann Medical College (now Drexel University College of Medicine) in Philadelphia. His postgraduate training was at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the National Cancer Institute in Baltimore.

You can follow him on Twitter @DrLen and on his American Cancer Society Blog. 

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