Coping with the Cost of Oral Cancer
- “Home Alone” actor Ken Hudson Campbell, 61, is battling oral cancer after a tumor was discovered in his mouth. He’s undergoing lengthy surgery for treatment, but his family is worried about the hefty price tag of care.
- For help navigating treatment costs, patients can consider speaking with a financial counselor, patient navigator, or social worker at the hospital. They can also explore possible treatments through clinical trials.
- Though not all oral cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, there is a link.
- The vast majority of humans in the United States, both men and women, will eventually get infected with HPV, according to Dr. Allen Ho, a head and neck surgeon at Cedars-Sinai. The HPV vaccine is recommended to protect against these cancers.
“Home Alone” actor Ken Hudson Campbell, 61, is on the verge of a 10-hour long surgery to treat oral cancer after a tumor emerged on the bottom of his mouth, impacting his teeth. Campbell portrayed Santa Claus in the popular 1990 film. Still, he and his family are now looking for their own Christmas miracle through a successful procedure and financial help to cover its costs.
“You may know Ken from his roles as Santa in Home Alone, the guy Bill Murray kisses in “Groundhog’s Day” or in “Armageddon” where his character loses his life saving the world from a giant asteroid,” the GoFundMe page says.Read More
Michaela adds that Campbell lost his health insurance. Amid using a feeding tube, skin grafts, and a tracheotomy, his family is expecting a hefty medical bill once all is said and done. The GoFundMe was created to help the actor cover some of the costs.
Helping You Find Financial Resources for During Treatment
- ‘Strong in Cancer’: How To Combat Financial Anxiety, Plus Tips For Making Difficult Treatment Decisions
- Guide to Financial Planning After a Cancer Diagnosis: Planning Is So Important For Peace of Mind
- A Quick Guide to Getting Help Paying The Cancer Bills– Now That Treatment Is Expected to Rise 30% In A Decade
Help with the Cost of Cancer Treatment
Campbell’s family has raised $54,000 of their $100,000 goal as of the time of this writing. “Cancer treatment is incredibly expensive,” Laurie Ostacher, a Behavioral Health Clinician at Stanford Health Care, previously told SurvivorNet.
“How much coverage you have depends on your purchased insurance plan. Sometimes, when folks are younger, they might purchase a plan with a high deductible, assuming they won’t get ill. So, really, it’s helping them think about and kind of try and plan for the expenses that will be coming up. Your cancer center will often have a financial counselor to help you with that, who can sit down and go through the costs.”
WATCH: See how a social worker can help with cancer costs.
Financial toxicity is a term that has been coined to describe the problematic financial impact cancer treatment brings.
The consequences of cancer costs can extend beyond patients’ wallets. Some people feel they must cut their pills in half to extend their medications or not refill their medications for several weeks because they can’t afford it.
To begin your journey for financial assistance, start by talking to your doctor. Your cancer center can help address any concerns about the cost of your cancer drugs.
Ostacher also recommends exploring disability programs.
“Most people are working when they’re diagnosed, and finances are a significant issue for them. So, for those who want to take some time off and can take time off, I will talk to them about the disability programs that exist,” she said.
“There’s the state disability program. Every state has a disability program. They vary from state to state. And then there’s also the federal disability program. So, I’ll help folks kind of sit down, look at their income, estimate how much money they will get, they will collect from disability, how to go about the application process,” Ostacher continued.
Other options may include taking part in paid clinical trials.
Coping with Oral Cancer
“From the 1980s to the 2010s, the rate of HPV-related head and neck cancers has gone up by 300 percent,” Dr. Ted Teknos, a head and neck cancer specialist and president and scientific director of University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland, Ohio, told SurvivorNet during a previous interview.
Though not all oral cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, there is a link.
WATCH: Understanding the Human papillomavirus.
The vast majority of humans in the United States, both men and women, will eventually get infected with HPV, according to Dr. Allen Ho, a head and neck surgeon at Cedars-Sinai.
“The important thing to know about HPV is that there are many different strains, and only a couple of them tend to be more cancer-inducing,” Dr. Ho previously told SurvivorNet during an interview. “Probably less than 1 percent of the population who get infected happen to have the cancer-causing virus that somehow their immune system fails to clear, and over 15 to 20 years it develops from a viral infection into a tumor and cancer.”
While surgery is often required to remove the cancerous cells, other treatments include chemotherapy, radiation, and targeted drug therapies. If the cancer is advanced, some of these treatments can affect a patient’s ability to eat or speak, though it’s possible to regain those functions through rehabilitation therapy.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
If you are worried about cancer treatment costs, here are some questions you can ask your doctor to kickstart your way to solutions.
- What will my treatment cost?
- Will my medical insurance cover my treatment?
- How long do you expect my cancer treatment to last?
- What options do I have if I can’t afford my medication?
- Can you recommend a financial counselor or navigator to talk with?