Prevalence of food insecurity among cancer survivors in the United States: a scoping review

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics




cancer; financial hardship; food security; social determinants of health; supportive care


BACKGROUND: Medical financial hardship is an increasingly common consequence of cancer treatment and may lead to food insecurity. However, food security status is not routinely assessed in the healthcare setting, and the prevalence of food insecurity among cancer survivors is unknown. OBJECTIVE: This scoping review aimed to identify the prevalence of food insecurity among cancer survivors in the United States (US) prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: Five databases (PubMed, Scopus, CINAHL, Web of Science, and ProQuest Dissertations and Theses) were systematically searched for articles that reported on food security status among US patients receiving active cancer treatment or longer-term cancer survivors and were published between January 2015- December 2020. RESULTS: Among the 15 articles meeting the inclusion criteria, overall food insecurity prevalence ranged from 4.0% among women presenting to a gynecologic oncology clinic to 83.6% among patients at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). Excluding studies focused specifically on FQHC patients, prevalence of food insecurity ranged from 4.0-26.2%, which overlaps the food insecurity prevalence in the general US population (10.5-14.9%) during the same time period. Women were more likely than men to report being food insecure, and the prevalence of food insecurity was higher among Hispanic and Black compared to non-Hispanic White patients. CONCLUSIONS: Given significant heterogeneity in study populations and sample sizes, it was not possible to estimate an overall food insecurity prevalence among cancer survivors in the US. Routine surveillance of food security status and other social determinants of health is needed to better detect and address these issues.


Nursing Faculty Publications