Innovative treatments and diagnostics mean that more people then ever are surviving after a cancer diagnosis.
Indeed, figures from the Department of Health and Social Care, reported by Money Marketing, show that cancer survival rates are at a record high, with 7,000 more people surviving cancer compared with three years ago.
While this is great news, surviving cancer can be financially tough. In some ways it can create more money issues than passing away, as you may have to continue to meet all your financial commitments on a significantly reduced income, while also facing potential increased costs.
Read on to find out more about how more people than ever are surviving cancer, and why it’s so important to protect yourself in case you were to receive a cancer diagnosis.
Good news: UK five-year cancer survival rates are rising
The latest data shows that, across all the main types of cancer, UK five-year survival rates have all improved in the past 10 years:
- The five-year survival rate for breast cancer has risen from 80% to 86%
- The five-year survival rate for prostate cancer has risen from 82% to 89%
- The five-year survival rates for rectum and colon cancer are both up 8%, from 55% to 63% and 52% to 60% respectively.
While it is great news that thousands more people are surviving a cancer diagnosis, the UK still lags behind many other countries.
Matthew Thaxter, a research analyst at the UK Centre for Health Solutions, compared the outcomes for cancer patients from 73 different countries over the period 2000 to 2014. He found:
- Lung cancer is the deadliest type of cancer in the UK, with 35,486 dying from this in 2015. Based on five-year survival rates, the UK ranks 21st out of 27 other European Union (EU) countries
- Colorectal cancer had the second highest mortality in the UK in 2015. Cancer of the colon and cancer of the rectum in the UK ranked 17th and 12th respectively in the EU for five-year survival rates
- Prostate cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death in the UK (11,819 deaths in 2015). The study data ranks the UK in 16th and 14th places respectively, for five-year survival from prostate and breast cancers.
The UK also ranks 14th out of 27 for blood cancer, 20th for pancreatic cancer, 21st for brain cancer and 24th for stomach cancer.
So, even though the figures are encouraging, there’s still a lot of work to be done to further improve the chances of recovery from a cancer diagnosis.
It’s why Michael Chapman, director of information and involvement at the leading charity Cancer Research UK (CRUK), recently said that CRUK was dedicated to improving diagnosis and treatments for all cancers. He also said that CRUK are investing in research to help develop more treatments to give more people more time.
Getting screened can help you to receive the support and information you need
One of the reasons that cancer survival rates are rising is that more cancers are being diagnosed earlier.
For example, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer diagnosed at stage I is 90%, but this drops drastically to just 13% when breast cancer is diagnosed at stage IV.
Recent reports show that millions of people across the UK are not taking advantage of the screening programmes that are available.
As an example, the percentage of women taking up invitations for breast cancer screening was at the lowest level in a decade in 2017, dropping to just 71% of women. Additionally, data from 2016/17 shows that more than 1.2 million women in the UK (25% of the eligible population) did not take up their invitation for cervical screening.
Deepak Jobanputra, Deputy CEO at insurer VitalityLife, says: “If the UK is to improve its survival rates, then encouraging greater take-up of available screening programmes needs to be a priority.
“Cancer survival rates may have unfortunately led to some complacency that people will survive a cancer diagnosis rather than appreciate that they may still spend years fighting the disease”.
The financial implications of a cancer diagnosis
CRUK say that 1 in 2 people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some time in their life.
If you receive a cancer diagnosis, it can be life-changing for many reasons:
- You may have to take an extended period off work. This could see your income reduce significantly, especially if you end up on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- You may have to give up work entirely
- If you’re self-employed, your income may stop if you’re not able to work
- You may have to deal with the emotional and mental repercussions of your diagnosis, so you may not want the additional financial worries
- You may have to visit a hospital or care facility for regular treatment
- Your family may have to change their way of living to assist with your recovery and recuperation
- You may have to adapt your home.
All of these issues are likely to have a direct impact on your household finances. While life insurance would pay out if you pass away, or if you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness in some cases, receiving a cancer diagnosis might mean your life goes on – just with more money worries.
Indeed, you may actually find that your costs increase as a result of your diagnosis.
Insurer Zurich’s Hidden Cost of Cancer report found that 78% of those diagnosed with cancer in the previous two years had faced unexpected costs, increasing their monthly outgoings by £541.
The most common additional costs you might incur are:
- Increased petrol or diesel used to travel to appointments
- Higher food bills to accommodate changes in diet
- Buying new clothes due to a change in size
- Increased energy usage to keep warm
- Hospital parking.
Thanks to these increased bills, 39% of those diagnosed with cancer are drawing on savings to help them get by, while 34% they are “just about managing” to pay essential bills.
Worryingly, more than 1 in 4 (28%) said their diagnosis has caused them to struggle financially to the extent of being unable to pay all their bills.
Critical Illness protection can provide vital financial support when you really need it
If you want to make sure that you receive a tax-free injection of cash if you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, Critical Illness protection could be the answer.
The lump sum you receive on diagnosis of serious cancers can help you to:
- Replace lost income
- Repay debts, such as your mortgage
- Pay for the additional costs as listed above
- Adapt your home.
Perhaps even more importantly, it means you won’t have to worry about paying all your essential bills during what is likely to be a stressful and emotional time. You can focus on your recovery and your family without losing sleep that you won’t be able to pay your mortgage or bills.
It’s why TV star, Jonnie Irwin, recently urged everyone to take out this type of protection after his terminal cancer diagnosis at the age of just 47.
Get a Critical Illness cover quote now
We work with dozens of the UK’s leading insurers and can help you to find comprehensive Critical Illness protection at the most competitive rate.
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