Changes in finances, insurance, employment, and lifestyle among persons diagnosed with hairy cell leukemia

Jennie Hounshell, Cecilia Tomori, Rebecca Newlin, Kirstin Knox, Lynn Rundhaugen, Martin Tallman, Charles Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background. While being cured of cancer generally leads to a life expectancy similar to that of the general population, the extent to which other aspects of life are affected is unknown. To address these concerns, patients with hairy cell leukemia, a cancer with a very high cure rate, were queried about employment, insurance, finances, and lifestyle during and following their treatment. Methods. Study participants (n = 31) ranging in age from 24 to 73 years at the time of diagnosis (median, 49 years) were surveyed regarding changes in health and life insurance, employment, out-of-pocket medical costs, exercise, diet, and use of mental and alternative health services that occurred during or following hairy cell leukemia treatment. Results. Following a diagnosis of hairy cell leukemia, 61.3% of the respondents paid for some aspect of medical care in spite of having health insurance coverage at the time of diagnosis. Four respondents (12.9%) could not obtain health insurance following treatment, and the occupational choices of several individuals or their spouses were based in large part on a desire to obtain or maintain comprehensive health insurance of the 13 individuals who attempted to purchase life insurance, 10 had difficulty obtaining a policy or were denied coverage. Lifestyle changes were noted by 40% to 60% of respondents, and included reports of more frequent exercise, adoption of a healthier diet, and having a greater appreciation for life, loved ones, and physical health. Conclusions. While hairy cell leukemia is a highly curable malignancy, cancer survivors' lives and lifestyles are altered substantially after receiving treatment for the illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-440
Number of pages6
JournalOncologist
Volume6
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001

Keywords

  • Employment
  • Finances
  • Hairy cell leukemia
  • Insurance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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