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Cancer’s Hidden Price Tag: Revealing the costs behind the illness

Cancer is the toughest fight most of us will ever face. Its impact lasts long after treatment has ended. But while everyone anticipates the cost to health, few understand the financial impact of cancer.

Macmillan’s new research reveals the sheer scale of the financial burden faced by people living with cancer. Four in five (83%) people are, on average, £570 a month worse off as a result of a cancer diagnosis. Income goes down and expenditure rises at a time when money worries should be the last thing on people’s minds.

Our research suggests that support is not always accessible or comprehensive. The benefits system can be complex and difficult to navigate. People are not always aware of the financial help they’re eligible for, such as free prescriptions. Support to remain in or return to work can also be inadequate.3 All of this and more add unnecessary stress and worry at a time when people should be focusing on their treatment and recovery.

This year brings with it uncharted territory: wide-scale reform of the welfare system, new health structures, local authorities facing squeezed budgets, all against a backdrop of economic doom and gloom. Almost everyone across the UK will face tough financial decisions. It’s vital people living with cancer are not further disadvantaged. Macmillan is committed to finding ways to help those in need. We deliver a wide range of services for people affected by cancer. However, the financial problems faced by those affected by cancer are complex and no single organisation has all the answers. We need to harness the expertise and capacity of a wide range of sectors to tackle them. We want governments across the UK, the NHS, businesses and the voluntary sector to work with us to find solutions.

Already, many organisations are doing this. Our partnerships with Citizens Advice, local authorities and others continue to achieve great results in hard times. And I must thank the RBS Group for helping Macmillan pilot our financial guidance service and for part-funding this valuable research. Their backing and recognition of this important issue is much appreciated.

No one should face cancer alone. With the support of governments across the UK, the NHS and businesses, we can make sure the fight against financial hardship is one less thing for people affected by cancer to worry about.