Cancer patients in deprived communities are more at risk, according to a new report.
It says that differences in economic and social circumstances determine the impact of cancer for many patients, including both the incidence and outcome for certain cancer types.
The report “Understanding the challenges of cancer and socio-economic inequality in Ireland’, is from the independent Think-tank for Action on Social Change (TASC).
It calls for targeted investment to reach those most at risk, including greater capacity in primary care in deprived areas and investment in localised and community facing services aimed at disadvantaged and marginalised groups.
It recommends the expansion of cancer prevention and early diagnosis interventions, including a new approach to promotion of healthier lifestyles by disadvantaged groups during post-treatment recovery.
This would include State investment in amenities, such as parks and gyms.
Director of TASC Shana Cohen said the study found there were delays accessing primary services, less GPs in deprived areas, direct and indirect financial costs of treatment, such as transport and fear of loss of income.
‘Self-blame and stigma’
Ms Cohen found that disadvantaged patients also experience self-blame and stigma, which may be made worse by current public ‘healthy lifestyle’ messaging and that the psychological impact for such cancer cases requires attention.
The report says that significant financial debt and a health crisis may occur simultaneously due to moving residence outside the catchment area or becoming homeless while on a waiting list.
Additional issues are a lack of recognition of a patient’s indirect and direct costs linked to cancer diagnosis, including accommodation costs and even parking fees or ambulance and Emergency Department fees for third-tier patients without insurance or medical cards.
The report was commissioned and funded by Merck Sharp Dohme (MSD) but it says there was no editorial influence on the report or its findings.