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Expense of Prostate Cancer Treatment Proving a Challenge

Many men fighting prostate cancer are finding the expense of treatment is proving as big a challenge as the disease.

A study of more than 900 men conducted by Cancer Council Queensland, Griffith University and the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia found men were often slugged up to $6,000 in unexpected medical fees and tests.

At the heart of this problem is a confusing and stressful post-diagnosis period, in which treatments are agreed to without an understanding of the greater costs.

Dr Louisa Gordon, a senior research fellow with the Griffith Health Institute’ s Centre for Applied Economics, found many men were left angry and frustrated by a treatment process which many felt was not adequately explained by doctors.  They also said they felt rushed to make decisions which would have a profound impact on their lives and the lives of their families.

“Men receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer and they just hope that the doctors can fix them so they won’t die. They are not thinking about their finances. Unless the cancer is advanced, most men survive prostate cancer, in many cases it’s not as aggressive as other cancer types, so men do have time to ask more questions and get the full picture,” said Dr Gordon.

“On the other hand the medical system, whether public or private, needs to become a lot more transparent and informative so people can make informed choices during a stressful time.

“Men with private health insurance are often shocked and angry when they receive huge bills, often after paying their insurance for over 20 years. But this is very common and the financial costs quickly start to mount up.”

Many men diagnosed with prostate cancer are in their 60s, so the extra bills can create a significant realignment of their financial position and have consequences for their relationships.

“These issues can end up being less about economics than emotions and relationships, so men and their partners really need to get as much information as possible so they can be supported and concentrate on getting better.”