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The real cost of Cancer

Cancer - the real cost

The real cost of cancer

The financial impacts of cancer are not normally something people think of, but the truth is that for many people who get cancer, money is one of their biggest worries.

A cancer diagnosis can change everything.  People will often need time off work which could mean a drop in income which in turn could impact the paying of mortgage / rent payments, household bills and daily living expenses.

Cancer – The additional costs

At the same time, there are additional costs associated with cancer which many people don’t think about, these include:

– Travel costs (trips to and from hospital)

– Increased household bills

– Additional clothing costs

– House modifications

At a time when people should be focusing all their energy on fighting cancer, many could be spending their time worrying about money.


Having cancer is expensive.  MacMillan conducted some research in Wales and found that more than 50% of people with a cancer diagnosis were worried about their finances and one in four have to cut down on normal household expenditure.  One in five people had problems paying their bills, rent or mortgage, and in some extreme cases patients become homeless following diagnosis*.


Loss of income is one of the greatest financial implications for people diagnosed with cancer.

Of those employed at the time of diagnosis, around 15% will have to stop work altogether while three out of 10 will have to change their working status in some way*.

For those who don’t work the impact is also felt.  Although they do not experience loss of earnings, the increased costs associated with a cancer diagnosis can take up a large proportion of their fixed and typically low incomes.

And let’s not forget the income of a spouse or partner may also be affected if they need to give up work or reduce their hours to care for a loved one affected by cancer.


Legal & General’s latest Deadline to the Breadline report found that 18 days on average, is all people in the UK have until their savings run out and they could be on the breadline financially, without some other income to rely on.


Travel costs

Getting to and from hospital appointments are an additional cost faced by an estimated 95% of patients*.  Cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia typically require the most number of hospital appointments.

The true value of costs faced by cancer patients is hard to determine as a patient’s journey can differ due to the nature of the cancer treatment and the location of the cancer centre.  But the cost of travel can be significant.

There are also car parking costs to consider.  Parking charges can be quite expensive and costs can quickly add up.

Clothing costs

Treatments such as chemotherapy can cause substantial weight loss or gain.  As a result many people find they need to buy a whole new set of clothes and some need items such as wigs and bandanas. The majority of the expenses are experienced in the first year.  An estimated 40% of patients face this cost*.

Increased bills

Household bills can dramatically increase after a diagnosis:

  • Fuel bills can escalate as patients are at home more than usual and are more likely to feel the cold during treatment.
  • Phone bills can rise as patients need increased social interaction to combat isolation and loneliness.
  • Food bills can increase, particularly for patients who need to follow a special diet.
  • Patients may also need to buy items that they would never have considered, such as extra-thick duvets, specialist toiletries and particular types of toothbrushes. These inexpensive items can mount up to a significant sum.

Other costs

Additional costs which could also affect some patients are household modifications, childcare costs, and overnight costs.


All of these additional financial costs can trigger stress.  Stress can have a major impact on a cancer patient, resulting in emotional and mental health issues – all of which can affect how long it takes to recover from cancer.


Having Critical Illness Cover in place could help ease this financial burden.  It could be used to help towards paying bills and other expenses and can help support customers during their treatment, recovery and in some cases, to help them live with their illness.

* Source: Macmillan / Counting the cost of cancer

Post courtesy of Legal & General

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