Friday, February 23

Where you live or how much you earn, the factors that make the fight against cancer unequal

Is it the same to have cancer in Madrid than in rural areas? Is the disease experienced in the same way when one has sufficient economic resources as when one is unemployed or self-employed? Do people with less well-researched cancers have the same survival rates as those with a more well-known one?

Tamara, after overcoming the same cancer three times: “We are not aware of how lucky we are until we hang by a thread”

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The Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC) is clear that it is not the same. Inequalities greatly affect the prognosis and quality of life of patients and that is why this year it has focused its campaign on the world day against this disease, to make them known and be able to combat them.

It has done so in an act in Madrid chaired by the queen, in which the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, has recalled that one of the priorities is to improve early diagnosis, which is why screening for uterine cancer has been expanded , and that the Ministry plans to invest 795 million euros to acquire 800 high-tech equipment for the treatment of the disease. “It is important to continue opening the way in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer”, the minister reiterated, aware, as she has said, that there is still a long way to go to combat inequality.

The president of the AECC, Ramón Reyes, has stressed that the association seeks to collaborate with public administrations and other entities in addition to trying to reach where institutions do not go to mitigate inequality: psychology services or the flats where they take in people without resources are an example of these care programs.

Gloria Martínez, a resident of Valle d’Aran and diagnosed with breast cancer twice, explained that on her first diagnosis she had to go down to Lleida every month to receive her treatment. “It took two hours to go to the hospital. She left home at 6 in the morning and arrived at 7 or 8,” recalls this patient who narrates the added difficulties of residents in rural areas. There are half a dozen provinces in Spain without radiotherapy units, warns the report.

The same thing happens with specialized psychological care. In seven out of ten public hospitals, family members do not have access to any unit, according to the report. The possibility of receiving palliative care is another factor that makes the fight against cancer very unequal depending on where you live.

the price of cancer

Beatriz Parra, a physiotherapist who lost her job as a result of being diagnosed with breast cancer and who, after her recovery, discovered that during her sick leave she had consumed all the unemployment while she was on medical leave, has spoken about the economic problems derived from cancer. “I didn’t have any kind of help from the institutions and I didn’t know what to do. I got ahead thanks to my family, who helped me navigate without financial resources to look for a job,” explained Parra, who had to reorient his profession to root of the disease.

The impact of cancer also affects family members and caregivers, as is the case of Carmen Toledano, who had to request a leave of absence to be able to dedicate herself to caring for her husband, who is sick with cancer, and her 5-year-old daughter. During this period, they had to face a difficult economic situation because, during the leave of absence, Carmen had no salary.

Cancer causes 41 percent of families to spend more than 10,000 euros, between direct and indirect costs, and almost 30,000 people diagnosed have a situation of employment vulnerability that prevents them from assuming these expenses, according to a report by the Spanish Association Against Cancer. Cancer. This year more than 280,000 cases would have to be diagnosed in Spain, although they may be fewer due to the incidence of the pandemic, which is making screening difficult and therefore the location of the disease.

According to the report of the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology, in recent decades the absolute number of cancers diagnosed in Spain has grown as a result of the aging of the population, exposure to risk factors and the increase in early detection, which in recent years has slowed down.