There was a time in the not-too-distant past when cancer was widely referred to as “The Big C.” Doctors are generally credited with developing the euphemistic reference as a way to delicately talk about conditions that very likely were going to end in patients’ deaths.

Medical science has done an amazing job of finding treatments for a wide range of cancers. These days, such a diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean a prognosis that is life-ending for patients in Illinois. However, the cost of obtaining treatment can be so expensive that the prognosis can be financially life-changing — and not for the better.

Medical debt can be a very real problem that requires aggressive legal treatment if the patient is to live a fulfilling life once in remission. This is something that has been brought home once again by a new study by researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Oregon.

The group examined 2012 data on more than 4,700 cancer survivors and concluded that about one-third of working-age cancer survivors incur significant debt. And 3 percent of survivors turn to the protections available through filing for bankruptcy to recover the financial stability needed to face the future.

The reason so many people may find themselves in this situation is that cancer treatment costs have gone about three times faster than other health care costs in the United States. Average costs for therapy run about $10,000 a month. At the high end, the monthly cost could be as much as $60,000.

The focus of this new study was patients considered to be of working age, between 18 and 64. What the analysis found was that patients who were younger, lower income and on public health insurance faced a higher risk of debt or a need for bankruptcy.

These findings are not new. The link between cancer treatment costs and incurred debt is well established. If you are incurring medical debt, bankruptcy may be something you should consider. But as experienced bankruptcy attorneys will confirm, proper timing of such a filing is critical so consulting with skilled legal counsel is important.