Cancer impacts the body, depletes finances too: study

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Cancer impacts the body, depletes finances too: study

| Updated: February 20, 2024 21:38

Cancer has a cascading effect not only on the mind and body but also on our livelihood. According to one of the earliest studies conducted at Gujarat Cancer Research Institute (GCRI), patients with head and neck tumours often lose one-third of their earning potential. For instance, the condition takes an enormous toll on their speech faculties, diminishing efficiency in communication, crucial in any field of work.

Indian Journal of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery has published a study titled, ‘Economic Impact of Head and Neck Cancer in India at an Individual Level and the Factors Affecting It.’

Authored by GCRI faculty members and authority on the subject, including Mohamed Taher Mithi, Priyank Rathod and Shivam Pandya, the study was conducted on 178 patients with follow-ups spanning two to 15 years at the hospital. 

“Head and neck cancer was chosen as the focal point since Gujarat is one of the states with a high prevalence of such cancer due to the widespread habit of tobacco consumption. The study, one of the first in this context, indicated that the patient’s ability to speak and the nature of treatment were two major factors that had an impact on their finances,” said Dr Priyank Rathod, corresponding author and surgical oncologist, told The Times of India

Dr Shashank Pandya, director of GCRI, reminded us that the treatment, which comprises surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and travel costs, eats into the finances of those affected.

“At government-run facilities such as GCRI, poor patients are offered services that can reduce their treatment costs. The families, however, incur boarding and lodging expenses among others. Several initiatives are taken up to reduce their financial burden,” he told the daily.

The research claimed that 78% of the patients were working members of their families before their diagnosis. After treatment, only 56% continued to provide livelihood to their families, indicating their incapacity to reach the earlier levels.

“One must consider multiple factors ranging from whether the patient is a local or travelling from another town or city, whether he or she is accompanied by relatives, the tests and treatment costs, etc. While there are facilities available at subsidised rates, everything from CT and MRI scans to post-operative procedures incur expenditure,” mentioned Dr Abhijeet Salunke, surgical oncologist and co-author of the research.

The experts suggested measures like cancer camps by hospitals to cut travel costs. 

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