Cancer patients in the UK can find their illness costs them hundreds of pounds a month, a charity has warned.

Macmillan Cancer Support says the worst affected are those with mortgages to pay and children to support.

Its report, based on a survey of 1,600 cancer patients, says there are costs – like travelling to hospital – but some also suffer a loss in income. Macmillan says more should be done to help.

The government said measures were in place to help with patients’ finances.

The University of Bristol’s Personal Finance Research Centre carried out a postal survey on 1,600 cancer patients on behalf of Macmillan to see how their illness had affected their finances.

It found 83% incurred costs, on average, of £270 a month.

The biggest extra cost is attending hospital appointments, with 71% saying the cost of travel to and from hospital affects them. Just over a third also cited hospital parking fees as a significant extra bill.

Fuel bills often also rise as people spend more time at home recuperating.

‘Growing problem’

One in five (22%) said medicine costs were also a factor – and Macmillan said some patients might not be receiving the free prescriptions they may be entitled to.

Fewer patients lose income – the survey found the figure was about a third – but the average loss was about £830 a month.

People who were working and who had children were more likely to fall into that group. Those on a low income and those with a mortgage were also more likely to fall into this group.

Macmillan Cancer Support chief executive Ciaran Devane said: “This new research shows that cancer comes with a whopping price tag for many patients.

“Combined with the current recession and with welfare cuts, the cost of the disease is hitting the most vulnerable hardest.

“With the number of people living with cancer in the UK doubling from two to four million by 2030, this is a growing problem which cannot be ignored.”

The charity wants government, business and the NHS to offer more financial support to people with cancer.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “We recently launched a new initiative to improve quality of life for the 1.8 million people living with and surviving cancer, including a support checklist for doctors and nurses to make sure they give cancer patients the practical, physical and emotional support they need.

“No-one should be paying extortionate amounts to park in an NHS car park, whatever their condition. Many hospitals already provide concessions to patients who go to hospital regularly, including cancer patients undergoing treatment.

“We recently simplified the Employment Support Allowance process for people with cancer to help more people receive long term financial support they need while unable to work.”

BBC News