The Canadian Cancer Society is drawing attention to the out-of-pocket costs associated with a cancer diagnosis after commissioning a national survey of 2,624 adults – most of whom say cancer’s costs would impact their household finances.

Specifically, the survey found that 90 per cent felt a sudden cancer diagnosis would impact their household finances.

“Over two thirds noted that additional monthly out-of-pocket expense related to cancer care would make it difficult for them to manage financial necessities like paying for monthly household expenses, making mortgage or rent payments and paying off debts,” the society stated in an announcement.

They add that it can take between six and 10 months to treat and begin to recover from some of the most common types of cancer. The out-of-pocket expenses for medications, caregiver and travel costs is estimated to be $290/month on average per patient. This estimate is based on a 2021 systemic literature review led by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, adjusted to 2023.

Among those surveyed in this most recent effort, 30 per cent said they would need to go into debt to pay for the out-of-pocket costs of a cancer diagnosis; an additional 10 per cent said they would need to ask friends or family to help cover the financial costs. “Markedly, 63 per cent of Canadians said that the financial burden of cancer-related expenses would have a significant impact on their stress and mental health,” they write.