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People Want to Know About Costly Cancer Drug Options

-- Jeff Muise

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

TUESDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- If they had cancer, most Australians would want to know about an expensive anticancer drug (EACD), and many would be prepared to pay for it even if they could not afford to, according to a study published online Sept. 28 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Linda Mileshkin, M.D., of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in East Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues conducted a telephone survey of 1,255 members of the public who were asked if they had cancer and a two-year expected survival if they would want to know of an EACD ($25,000 out-of-pocket) in each of three scenarios: 1) the EACD would extend survival four to six months, 2) the EACD would not extend survival but would improve quality of life, 3) the EACD offered a 50 percent chance of shrinking the cancer when there is currently no effective standard treatment for the type of cancer they have.

The researchers found that 91 percent said they would want to be told about the EACD that could improve survival, and 51 percent said they would pay for it. Among those willing to pay, 31 percent said the cost would be a financial burden. Of the 9 percent of respondents who did not want to know of the EACD, half were concerned about distress caused by the information.

"In conclusion, the general public wants to be informed about EACDs as potential treatment options. Withholding such information may be considered unethical. It fails to respect the autonomous wishes of the vast majority who wish to be informed of such options. There is no evidence that informing those who wish to be informed would harm them," the authors write.

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Specialties Cardiology
Diabetes & Endocrinology
Internal Medicine
Family Practice

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