Financial Toxicity in Breast Cancer Surgery

  • End date
    Feb 1, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    McMaster University
Updated on 7 October 2022


The purpose of this study is to evaluate financial toxicity, or financial harm, in breast cancer patients. The study will follow patients throughout their cancer treatment. The study investigators will measure if patients are experiencing financial toxicity and if it changes throughout treatment, and whether it's associated with different cancers, treatments, or demographics. Also, the study investigators will measure if financial toxicity impacts other areas of life (e.g., well-being, satisfaction). Finally, patients will be asked to estimate how much money they expect to spend on out-of-pocket expenses during their treatment and how their finances and employment status have changed since their cancer diagnosis.


One in three breast cancer patients experiences treatment-related, cost-associated distress. This financial harm is termed "financial toxicity" (FT). FT is the strongest independent risk factor for diminished quality of life and patient-reported outcomes (PROs) among cancer patients. The present study will be the first prospective cohort study examining FT in breast cancer patients in Canada, or any other publicly-funded healthcare system.

The primary objective is to detect the prevalence and trajectory of FT using a validated instrument and its association with patient and treatment-related characteristics. The secondary objective is to assess the effects of financial toxicity on patient-reported quality of life, well-being, and satisfaction. The tertiary objective is to assess patients' baseline cost expectations for reconstructive surgery, actual out-of-pocket spending, private insurance or workplace benefits expenditure, and employment status, over the course of treatment.

Participants will be recruited at their consultation with the general surgeon, will consent to be observed for up to 1 year and be asked to complete a series of validated questionnaires, at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months.

The primary outcome is financial toxicity (FT), assessed using the COmprehensive Score for financial Toxicity (COST), a validated patient-reported outcome measure that uses a 12 item, five-point Likert scale type.

The secondary outcomes include (1) well-being and satisfaction, as measured by the BREAST-Q, (2) quality of life as measured by the 12-Item Short Form Health Survey (12-SF), (3) patient-level (age, co-morbidities, stage, socioeconomic status) and treatment-associated (complications, type of breast surgery, decision to have reconstruction, type of reconstruction), and (4) baseline cost expectations, out-of-pocket spending, private insurance or workplace benefits expenditure, and employment status, over the course of treatment.

Multivariate regression will be used to identify patient and treatment level factors associated with financial toxicity. First, the association between the COST scores and each survey question response, patient characteristic, and treatment factor will be determined. A stepwise linear regression will be completed with backward elimination to generate a list of co-variates based on their significance level. All variables in the final selected model has a significance level < 0.1. Other data will be characterized the study samples by presenting the means, standard deviations, and medians for continuous variables and frequencies for categorical variables.

Condition Breast Cancer
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT05104632
SponsorMcMaster University
Last Modified on7 October 2022


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Inclusion Criteria

Have an indication for surgical treatment of breast cancer
years of age or older
Able to understand and communicate in English
Have access to email and internet and are able to fill out an electronic survey

Exclusion Criteria

Patients will be excluded if they have recurrent or metastatic disease
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