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People with cancer are surviving longer – so here’s why you need to protect yourself

People with cancer are surviving longer – so here’s why you need to protect yourself

Mar 24, 2022

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be a stressful time. As you focus on your recovery, you may have to take a significant time off work, or rely on people around you for support when it comes to caring for your loved ones and managing your day-to-day life.

Of course, tragically, many people go on to die from the disease. Official data from the Office for National Statistics shows that, in England and Wales in 2020, 147,193 people passed away as a result of cancer.

However, new research has revealed that an increasing number of people with cancer in England are surviving for longer after being diagnosed.

It can sometimes be a financial challenge to receive a cancer diagnosis and survive for many years. You may have months or even years out of the workplace, meaning you may lose your source of income while having to continue to pay your mortgage or rent, and other household bills.

Read on to find out more about how people are living for longer, and how you can ensure you receive financial support if you are diagnosed with cancer.

More than 9 in 10 people survive for five years after a cancer diagnosis

Recent research published in the Independent has revealed that the survival rates for one year and five years after a cancer diagnosis increased between 2015 and 2019 compared to those diagnosed between 2006 and 2010.

Out of the men whose data was examined, 90% survived for five years, as did 95% of women.

“In England one-year non-standardised net survival has improved, with patients diagnosed between 2015 and 2019 having a higher one-year survival than patients diagnosed between 2006 and 2010,” NHS Digital states.

“This trend was seen for all cancers and both genders except for bladder cancer. The largest improvement was 1.6 percentage points on average per year for lung cancer in females.”

The rates of survival were lower, however, in certain forms of cancer, including pancreatic cancer and mesothelioma, which is primarily caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos.

The research found that only 6.3% of men and 7.8% of women who develop mesothelioma survived five years beyond their diagnosis.

Over the last two decades, the incidence of children surviving for one year after a cancer diagnosis has risen dramatically. Those up to the age of 14 who were diagnosed between 2002 and 2019 experienced a rise in one-year survival, going from just 9.7% in 2002 to 93.4% in 2019.

Overall, according to Cancer Research UK, there was a 50% survival rate for cancer of 10 or more years between 2010 and 2011 in England and Wales.

So, what does this all mean?

Overall, people who are diagnosed with many types of cancer are surviving for longer than ever before.

Considering that Cancer Research UK say that 1 in 2 people in the UK born after 1960 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime, these are encouraging statistics.

People diagnosed with cancer are being hit with a £900 a month “cancer price tag”

Of course, a cancer diagnosis comes with its own challenges – and many of these can be financial.

Indeed, a recent study by Macmillan Cancer Support shows that, for many people, the long-term financial impact of cancer can reach more than a year’s average UK salary.

Macmillan say that more than four in five people living with cancer – almost 2.5 million people across the UK – are hit by a so-called “cancer price tag” that reaches almost £900 a month.

The financial issues that many people encounter because of a cancer diagnosis can come from a range of extra and often unexpected needs, as well as a drop in earnings if they are less able to work.

The latest figures show that:

  • 54% of people with cancer see an increase in day-to-day living costs
  • 28% experience extra costs travelling to and from their appointments
  • 17% face higher household fuel bills.

In addition, three in four people with cancer (75%) experience a loss of income following their diagnosis.

Carrie Whitham, head of operations for money and work support at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Even before Covid-19 we were receiving more and more calls to our support line from people living with cancer, worried about the financial impact of their diagnosis.”

If you’re diagnosed with cancer or another serious illness you may face two challenges.

Firstly, it’s possible that your income or earnings may fall. You may have to take an extended period off work, and you could end up on Statutory Sick Pay, which in 2022/23 is just £99.35 a week, for a maximum of 28 weeks.

If you’re self-employed then it’s possible that your earnings dry up completely, if you’re not able to work at all.

Additionally, you may find that your outgoings could rise. As the Macmillan study shows, you could end up with increased day-to-day living costs, from higher household bills to the cost of driving or taking public transport to regular hospital appointments.

For all these reasons, it’s important to ensure you have the peace of mind that your finances are one thing you don’t have to worry about while you focus on your recovery.

How to ensure you receive financial support if you’re diagnosed with cancer

At a stressful and emotional time, having the reassurance that you will receive financial support can be incredibly comforting. You don’t need to worry about how you pay your bills, whether your family can maintain their standard of living, or having to take time off work while you recover.

A lump sum could also enable you to pay off debts, so you have one less thing to worry about as you focus on your recuperation.

One of the simplest ways to ensure you’re protected is by putting the right Critical Illness cover in place. Critical Illness will pay a tax-free lump sum if you’re diagnosed with one of a list of specified illnesses – including many forms of serious cancer.

Once your insurer is satisfied that your illness meets the definition under the policy, they will pay you the sum assured. You could use this money to:

  • Help to replace your income if you have to take time off work
  • Repay your mortgage or other debts
  • Pay for adaptations to your home
  • Cover the additional day-to-day living costs you may encounter
  • Continue to maintain your standard of living, including things like pension contributions and savings so your future financial security isn’t affected.

The key aim is that it provides financial support at a time when you really need it.

Note that Critical Illness cover might not pay out for minor types of cancer

It’s important to remember that minor types of cancer, or “pre-cancerous conditions” may not be covered under a Critical Illness plan.

For example, Aviva – one of the UK’s largest insurers – say that their Critical Illness cover will not pay out for cancers which are histologically classified as pre-malignant, non-invasive, or “cancer in situ”.

However, despite these exceptions, it’s important to remember that all Critical Illness plans will pay 100% of the sum assured if you meet their main cancer definition.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) says that, in 2020, insurers paid more than 9 in 10 Critical Illness claims. A total of 16,845 Critical Illness claims were paid with an average value of £67,011.

Get in touch with the Critical Illness cover experts

If you’re looking for the peace of mind that you’ll receive financial support if you’re diagnosed with cancer, we can help.

As Critical Illness experts, we work with dozens of the UK’s leading insurers to help you find the cover you need at the best price.

Get a Critical Illness cover quote online, or speak to one of our experts today.

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