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Caring cancer patients program at RCC, Trivandrum (2009-2014)

Cancer is a disease which not only damages the patient, but devastates the family itself. In our daily life we come across with reports from many sources and voluntary organizations about the plight of many such families to find some means for the daily food and medicine. Cancer has become one of the major causes of death in India. Every year, about 0.4 million deaths occur In India due to cancer (Government of India, 2010). It is estimated that nearly one million new cases of cancers will be diagnosed by 2015 and nearly 0.67 million people are expected to die.

Most cancer patients reel under the pressure of the astronomical cost of treatment. What hits them even harder is the exorbitant amount of money paid for the drugs that are crucial for a cancer patient's survival at an advanced stage. It can be a huge drain on the resources of families belonging to middle or lower income group. The mounting cost of cancer care can drive most families to the brink of bankruptcy. Although Governments provide free/subsidized treatment at the tertiary cancer centers, patients often use expensive advanced-level treatment to increase their chances of survival. Emergence of new technologies and treatments protocols for cancer coupled with a rapid rise in cases of the disease mean cancer care is rapidly becoming unaffordable to a majority of population.

In Kerala too, Cancer remains a leading cause of mortality. Although many types of cancer are curable today, the treatment is often prolonged and expensive. The patients and their families therefore face a dilemma -- the painful choice of cost versus care. Several families abandon treatment mid way, which also contributes to the high mortality rate.

Realizing that cancer is curable and there is an urgent need to support patient and families which are `too poor to afford treatment', SANTHWANAM introduced a program for Cancer Patients admitted to Regional Cancer Centre of Trivandrum to provide possible financial support.

This program was designed to relieve cancer patient's financial burden and to help the less privileged patients and families affected by cancer. Started in 2009 for patients under age 18, this program expanded its coverage to adult patients in recent years.

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