Cancer Patients: Skipping Treatment Due To Unaffordable Drugs

A October 24, 2017 report on talked about cancer patient treatment in the United States of America. One of the biggest topics raised in the article is the tragic fact that cancer patients these days are ignoring their therapy because of the high costs of cancer care. About one-quarter of their cancer patients are reported to ignore their treatment entirely because of staggering costs, according to a new survey.

The Survey

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) commissioned a report indicating that at least 27 percent of people who just survived cancer entirely skipped their doctor’s visits. These cancer patients also took alternative steps to reduce their health costs, including using alternative remedies and herbal treatment. In the effort to save money, 1 in every ten patients even ignored going to their doctor’s appointments. It was also shown in the survey that eight percent had entirely refused treatment, while the rest postponed filling up on their prescriptions. Many patients also deferred their treatment or simply skipped on their doses. There was even effort by patients to cut pills in half, according to a survey that consulted at least 4,000 adults.

This compromising action from patients will jeopardize the successful treatment of their condition, and this will then cause tremendous damage to their health. It is not only their health they are compromising, but also their lives. ASCO Chief Medical Officer Dr. Richard Schilsky even added in a Press Release from the group that the consequence of this tragic condition would be alarming at different levels.

Impossible Choice

Schilsky also mentioned in the press release that there’s a lot we can do about people who need cancer treatment. One of those actions should be addressing the issue at a national policy level. It is his expert opinion that no family member should have to encounter choices like this. No patient should be deprived of the right to the medical costs that they need. It is in Schilsky’s opinion that the issue of Cancer treatment should be something that people need to address at the most basic level in the same way that food, clothing and shelter expenses are discussed today.

Adjusting On Their Own

It is also indicated in the report that the action of patients of adjusting the medication on their own, such as by cutting the pills in half, would put their life at stake. The survey respondents also stated that the government should lower the costs of these prescription drugs. The government should also help in making the professional fees of doctors lower.

It is also indicated in the respondent’s interview log that they want Medicare to be able to negotiate the drug prices directly. There should be enough regulation to incentivize the big pharmacies to lower their costs. Big pharmaceuticals companies are enjoying their profits from the overpriced drugs they sell to cancer patients, and the respondents don’t want this to happen any longer.

The report also showed that respondents want to be able to acquire their needed drugs from other countries. They also want the governments to help diagnose, treat and prevent the common causes of cancer today. The respondents also want the government to be able to develop preventive measures and cures even if it means that it will be higher taxes for all or even if the government faces a deficit.

Federal Research

The federal research for cancer treatment indicates that what the respondents want is for more ways to prevent cures and generate innovation in cancer research. The new and improved treatments available today come from the need of patients for a cure. This doesn’t reflect the reality, however. Most Americans don’t want to fund Cancer research, though. Only 54 percent right now wants to spend more on care and screenings.

This must be because of what Nassim Taleb called as Skin In The Game, where those who have no Skin In The Game or those who have no cancer or have no loved ones with cancer are less likely to support the cause. The government right now seems to agree with this statement because the country doesn’t seem to want to offer better care and screenings for the patients.


The survey also revealed that less than one-third of the respondents didn’t know that alcohol and obesity are big risk issues that affect cancer. With people having issues with these regards, they are more likely to develop the condition more than the rest. All these findings were able to resurface because of the study released last Oct 24 and conducted by The Harris Poll from July 10-18 2017.


There are much insight we can get from this report. The first of those lessons would be about decentralization. Expert opinion from Nassim Taleb indicates that because the system is so centralized, not many problems can be solved effectively. The big government should delegate their control into different small states to create transparency and dedication. If the people around you who have cancer are people you care about, you are more likely to care about their cancer treatment. Nassim Taleb seems to advocate a tribal system where people are concerned for each other’s well-being.

This new change in the system requires significant changes and would need to make things small. Things should scale down. In the case of cancer research, the government should decentralize itself and should regulate the Big Pharma industry. This would also require the government to give the cancer research budget to the federal states, so they know better what to do with the money. Bottom-up should be the approach and not top-bottom. This strategy has worked in many areas of finance, economics, and culture. There’s little reason to doubt that this will also benefit the search for solutions in cancer care.