Social consequences of cancer: Many cancer patients live in poverty

Social consequences of cancer: Many cancer patients live in poverty

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Cancer often leads to poverty

It is bad enough to be affected by cancer. However, a recent study shows that there are often serious social consequences. For many sufferers, the financial situation deteriorates considerably in the course of the illness. This is not only due to the reduced performance of many affected people. More than half of the patients surveyed did not know which services they were legally entitled to and how they could use them.

In the "Cancer and Poverty" project, researchers from the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HFH), in collaboration with the AOK Nordost and the Institute for Applied Research Berlin, examined the socio-economic consequences of cancer. The team found that the economic situation of cancer patients worsened significantly on average in the years after diagnosis. A third of the respondents were no longer working three years after the cancer diagnosis and the average salary worsened for those returning to work.

Cancer and poverty go hand in hand

"With the project, we were able to show that the economic situation will become significantly more difficult in the years after the illness," said study leader Professor Dr. Stefan Dietsche published the study results in a press release. In addition, it had been shown that the advice given to patients is in many cases insufficient and they do not know what benefits they are entitled to.

Serious cuts in some cases

As Professor Dietsche reports, the social benefits for most of the 300 respondents were perceived as insufficient. Most of the financial restrictions were so severe that the people affected not only had significantly less money for leisure, entertainment or luxury goods, but also that basic needs such as nutrition, clothing or financial security were massively restricted.

Reduced income after cancer

In addition to the surveys, data from 3000 cancer patients of the AOK Nordost were evaluated. All were of working age. It was found that around a third remained unemployed after the illness. Although two thirds returned to work, they received lower average wages than before the illness. "As the main reason for the changed employment situation, those affected stated a decline in performance," the researchers report.

Great ignorance of social benefits

The study also revealed that there is a great deal of ignorance about which social benefits are due to those affected and how they can take advantage of them. 57 percent of the participants felt that they were insufficiently informed about the topic of social benefits. "This is a point that needs to be improved - after all, it's about existential questions," warns Professor Dietsche.

Further investigations

In a follow-up project, the team led by Professor Dietsche wants to investigate the social consequences of cancer even more in depth. "But now we want to look even more closely at the life situation of those affected and take their perspectives into account," said the expert. (vb)

Author and source information

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