Dr Yousuf Zafar of Duke Cancer Institute Joins The Samfund's Advisory Council

June 22, 2017

Yousuf Zafar, MD, will advise The Samfund on research and evaluation of data to enhance its ability to combat financial aftereffects of cancer treatment.

The Samfund has announced the addition of Yousuf Zafar, MD, associate professor of medicine and public policy, and a gastrointestinal oncologist at the Duke Cancer Institute, to its advisory council. Zafar will advise The Samfund on research and evaluation of data to enhance its ability to combat financial aftereffects of cancer treatment.

Costs associated with cancer treatment can be a significant burden in a young adult cancer survivor’s life. Research conducted by The Samfund has found that the average net worth of a young adult cancer survivor receiving grants from the organization is approximately -$35,000, compared with $68,000 for young adults in the general population.

“While cancer treatment is evolving and improving, innovation comes at a high price,” Zafar said. "Every day, patients are making sacrifices to afford their cancer care. Not only do patients worry about the physical toxicity of cancer treatment, but they also have to worry about financial toxicity. I’m honored to be a part of The Samfund’s mission to reduce the financial toxicity experienced by cancer survivors and to ensure expenses do not stand between a patient and the best possible treatment.”

Communication gaps were also highlighted in the research that came out of The Samfund’s research study. Many young adults faced issues with initiating a conversation around finances with their doctors; they were ashamed or reluctant to start any financial conversation with their care provider. In his own research studies, Zafar has identified this disconnect—51% of cancer patients included in the study wanted to discuss cost considerations with their doctors, but only 19% actually do.

Samantha Watson, founder and CEO of The Samfund, said, “With Dr Zafar advising us on promoting adherence to medical treatment and new approaches to financial toxicity, we are better poised to help young adult survivors avoid it in the first place. We hear stories every day from individuals who are forgoing follow-up exams with their doctors, dental and mental health care, and facing hard choices between paying medical bills and their grocery bills.”