HEALTHY LIVING
10/12/2011 08:19 am ET | Updated Dec 12, 2011

Could Cancer Make You Go Bankrupt? The Risk For 8 Types Of Cancer

Cancer is expensive -- the American Cancer Society estimates that the 2010 total cost of cancer in the U.S. soared to $263.8 billion.

So perhaps unsurprisingly, a new study shows that there is also a link between cancer and personal bankruptcy, too, with some cancers being more tied to bankruptcy than others.

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center study, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology earlier this summer, shows that cancer patients are twice as likely as the general population to go bankrupt a year after their cancer diagnosis, with many people going bankrupt two and a half years after they were diagnosed with cancer.

"Patients diagnosed with cancer may face significant financial stress due to income loss and out-of-pocket costs associated with their treatment," study researcher Dr. Scott Ramsey, a health-care economist at the cancer research center, said in a statement. He added that on average, the rate of bankruptcy went up four times within five years after being diagnosed with cancer.

Ramsey and his colleagues used data from 232,000 people with cancer between 1995 and 2009, and found that 1.9 percent of those people declared bankruptcy, compared with 0.28 percent of the general population, Kaiser Health News reported.

Researchers found that age affected bankruptcy risk, with people overage 65 (and usually on Medicare) being less likely to go bankrupt than younger people.

Kaiser Health News reported that researchers weren't completely sure why some cancers seemed to raise bankruptcy risk more than others, but it might be associated with the sorts of people who are typically affected by the kinds of cancers. For example, lung cancer is common in smokers, and smokers are more likely to have a lower socioeconomic status.

Treatments for the cancers also seemed to affect the risk, with surgery and chemotherapy linked with increased bankruptcy risk, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Click through the slideshow to see the bankruptcy risk of the eight cancers investigated in the study, in order of increasing bankruptcy risk.