Health Impacts 1
· Surgery to remove the cancer/organ affected is possible however there may be long term nerve pain, nerve damage, impotence, lymphedema (swelling in areas of the body such as armpit or groin after lymph node removal). Other surgeries can cause long term disabilities, and some may even remove the use of limbs.
· Chemotherapy reduces the rate of production of cells in the bone marrow meaning there are fewer red and white blood cells and platelets. As there are fewer red blood cells, the patient may feel tired, breathless, dizzy or light-headed. As there are fewer white blood cells the patient’s immune system is damaged so they are more prone to infection as they are neutropenic (lack of neutrophils).
Health Impacts 2
· Some chemo drugs cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, loss of appetite or mouth ulcers meaning the patient may lose weight.
· Radiotherapy can cause a secondary cancer, fatigue, nausea, skin reaction, hair loss and infection, therefore treatment of cancer via this causes many other serious problems. Radiotherapy makes the skin sensitive to sunlight so patients cannot be exposed to direct sunlight for very long.
· Cancer increases the risk of blood clots (thrombosis) and chemotherapy may increase this risk further. Blood clots in, near or around the heart are extremely dangerous as they can kill the person within minutes.
Health Impacts 3
· Therapies for cancer may cause numbness or tingling in the hand or feet or muscle weakness (peripheral neuropathy) so patients may be unable to use them properly during treatments.
· Usually a cocktail of drugs are given to cancer patients to treat the cancer, relive symptoms and boost protection of the body. These may interrupt another metabolic pathways so could have any number of diverse effects on the body.
Economic Impacts 1
· Some patients give up their jobs because their cancer is advanced or symptoms make is impossible to work. Side effects of treatments mean some people are unable to work. Therefore employers have to look for new staff to fill spaces.
· Employers have to cover the work for patients who need day surgery, blood tests, blood transfusions, chemotherapy and radiotherapy so may lose out in some profits.
· $895 billion (about 1.5% of the world’s total GDP) is spent or lost through premature death and disability from cancer which could be spent elsewhere. In the UK, £18 billion a year is the cost of cancer in the UK while £5 billion is year is spent by the NHS.
Economic Impacts 2
· About 83 million DALYs were lost due to death and disability from cancer in 2008, meaning there were fewer people in work and more money spent on healthcare.
· 43% Cancer patients see a decrease in their income, because they had cancer. Some cancer patient may not return to work as research shows 74% of survivors under 50 years old will return to work, while only 30% of survivors over 50 will do the same. This has a total economic cost to society of about £5.2 billion
· Expenses associated with cancers build up over the course of the treatments such as car parking charges, petrol/diesel money and time off work mean some cancer patients go into debt after the treatments.
Lifestyle Impacts 1
· Patients sometime lose their self-esteem after having cancer so may resign from their jobs to stay at home. This may cause strain on relationships and career trajectory altered. Chemotherapy can cause changes in memory or concentration which is mild cognitive impairment or chemo-brain, which may make the patient unsuitable for work anymore. Low self-esteem may also be caused by dry or slightly discoloured skin caused by the chemotherapy. Chemotherapy may also cause nails to become brittle and flaky so patients have to be careful not to lose their nails.
· Some surgery can cause infertility (for example removal of the womb).
Lifestyle Impacts 2
· Patients have to manage their time, so that blood tests are incorporated in their routine as well as surgery, blood transfusion, chemotherapy or radiotherapy and regular check-ups to the hospital.
· Some chemotherapy drugs make hair thinner, dry, brittle and breaks easily, therefore patients have to be more careful with their hair only using gentle products. Other chemotherapy drugs make the hair fall out, so may lower the patients’ self-esteem. Therefore they have to adapt to wearing no hair, wigs, hats, turbans, scarves, bandanas etc.
Lifestyle Impacts 3
· Due to the lack of platelets in the blood, chemotherapy patients have to be weary not to bruise themselves or get cuts as they will not heal very quickly or easily.
· People around the cancer patient may not keep in touch with them, making the patient feel lonely and isolated. The cancer diagnosis itself may cause feelings or anger or bitterness, sadness or fear so the personality of the patient is altered.