Lymphoma survivors experience high bankruptcy rates


The high cost of contemporary cancer care does not usually include legal fees paid to personal bankruptcy lawyers but perhaps they should. According to recent research out of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, five years after diagnosis, cancer patients were four times as likely to declare bankruptcy than the general public.

In absolute statistics, 0.28 % of the general public declared bankruptcy in Washington state between 1995 and 2009, compared to 1.9% of cancer patients during the same time frame.

Researchers also found that some cancers tend to lead to bankruptcy more than others. The top five cancers, listed in their order from the top, were:

-- Lung cancer
-- Thyroid cancer
-- Lymphoma & Leukemia
-- Uterine cancer
-- Colorectal cancer

The study's authors did not have direct evidence explaining why these cancers were more commonly associated with bankruptcy filing, but they did speculate on some possible reasons.

With regard to lymphoma and leukemia, the authors wrote that this was most likely due to the extraordinarily high treatment costs, treatment which in many cases amount to a bone marrow transplantation—a procedure that, alone, can run into the low hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Ramsey SD et al. Cancer diagnosis as a risk factor for personal bankruptcy. Abstract 6007, 2011 ASCO Annual Meeting.

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