Breast cancer can cost ‘thousands’

Breast cancer can cost sufferers thousands of pounds, a survey by a leading cancer charity has revealed.

Macmillan Cancer Relief surveyed 50 cancer patients and found that, on average, they spent almost £2,000 on extra costs during their treatment.

The survey found that almost a quarter of all patients identified travel to hospital and parking as their biggest extra cost, although an equal number attributed their highest costs to diet improvements and complementary therapies.

Many patients feel that their recovery could be aided by the use of special foods, massage or aromatherapy.

One in six also said that medicines were their most expensive cost, while one in seven cited increased heating, electricity and gas bills as costing the most.

These additional costs were often combined with a drop in the level of income for patients, while they are receiving treatment, the charity warned, which could leave some patients in debt.

One woman, Jean Williams from Aberdeenshire, spent £12,200 throughout her treatment. She told the charity: “As a result of my double mastectomy, I have spent hundreds on getting to hospital – I have even had to buy a car. And due to the nature of my operations, I’ve spent thousands on complementary therapies including reflexology, aromatherapy and massage, otherwise I am in lot of pain.”

The survey also found that these extra costs impacted on patients’ everyday lives, leaving them having to make cutbacks on food, clothes, shopping, days out and holidays.

The survey found that 28% of patients had to cut back on shopping or purchase cheaper food and 60% had fewer days or evenings out as a result of extra costs.

Half of all patients said that they had to cut back on buying clothes or haircuts, while over half (54%) had fewer treats such as take-aways or meals out.

Peter Cardy, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Relief, said: “Our survey has shown that patients see their spending levels rocket when they are diagnosed with breast cancer. Patients have to spend on travel to hospital to receive their life-saving treatment. But equally expensive is the cost of special diets and complementary therapies – it’s clear that patients want to help control their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

“It is appalling to think that, at this very stressful time, cancer patients are having to worry about their financial situation – it should be the last thing on their mind.”

Emma Taggart, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “Being diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing treatment is an upsetting time for many women without the added pressure of financial worries. Women tell us that this is a major issue and that there isn’t enough information out there.”

More than 41,000 women and around 300 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK each year.


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