Exploring the Economic Impact on Breast Cancer Patients in Kelantan
Keywords:economic impact, breast cancer patients, Kelantan
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer and accounts for more than 30% of newly diagnosed cancer cases in Malaysian women. In 2006, the National Cancer Registry recorded 3525 cases of female breast cancer in Peninsular Malaysia. The economic impact of breast cancer is double pronged with families not only losing household income but also incurring greater expenses. This study examined the economic impact on breast cancer patients in Kelantan, Malaysia and involved 40 respondents. Data were collected using guided interviews. Our study showed that all the respondents who were working prior to the diagnosis of this illness were adversely affected. The most seriously affected ones were those who had to stop work and lost 100% of their income. Another group of patients suffered pay cuts because they had to limit their working hours or opted to work part-time. Most of the adversely affected cases were from the lower income groups and were mainly self-employed. The financial burden resulting from mainly non-medical expenses as well as the income loss has pushed some of the respondents into financial difficulties. Some of them used up their savings, borrowed and delayed their payments for essential services such as telephone, water, electricity, rental or loans. For respondents from the lower income group, the loss of income may result in falling into poverty, a process that has been referred to as ‘the medical poverty trap’.