Identifying a cut-off score for the COST measure to indicate high financial toxicity and low quality of life among cancer patients

Marques S.N. Ng, Kai Chow Choi, Dorothy N.S. Chan, Cho Lee Wong, Weijie Xing, Pui Shan Ho, Cecilia Au, Mandy Chan, Man Tong, Wai Man Ling, Maggie Chan, Suzanne S.S. Mak, Raymond J. Chan, Winnie K.W. So

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To identify a cut-off score for the COmprehensive Score for financial Toxicity (COST) to predict a clinical implication of a high level of financial toxicity (FT). Methods: A total of 640 cancer patients were recruited from three regional hospitals in Hong Kong. They completed a questionnaire comprising the COST measure and the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy - General (FACT-G) instrument. The cut-off score for the COST that predicts the lowest quartile of the FACT-G total score was identified by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis. The sample was then stratified by this cut-off score, and characteristics were compared using Fisher’s exact, chi-squared or independent sample t-test. Results: The mean scores were 20.1 ± 8.8 for the COST and 71.6 ± 15.5 for the FACT-G. The ROC analysis suggested that the cut-off of 17.5 yielded an acceptable sensitivity and specificity. Characteristics of patients with a higher level of FT included being younger, having a monthly household income of < 10,000 HKD (approximately 1290 USD), being more likely not employed, having stage IV cancer and receiving targeted and/or immunotherapy. In terms of financial support, a higher proportion of these patients had discussed financial issues with health care professionals and had received financial assistance. In addition, fewer of them were covered by private health insurance. Conclusion: Our findings suggest a cut-off for the COST that can be used to screen for FT in clinical settings. In addition, while a considerable proportion of high-FT patients received targeted therapy, they often received financial assistance. There is a gap between financial hardship and assistance that warrants attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6109-6117
Number of pages9
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number10
Early online date2 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Health expenditures
  • Health services
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Patient-reported outcomes
  • Treatment costs


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