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Economic and Social Burden of Childhood Cancer: An Experience from Bangladesh.
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  • Syed Rahman,
  • Swetha Variyath,
  • Nabeel Yateem,
  • Amina Marzouqi,
  • Muhammad Subu
Syed Rahman
University of Sharjah

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Swetha Variyath
University of Sharjah
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Nabeel Yateem
University of Sharjah
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Amina Marzouqi
University of Sharjah
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Muhammad Subu
University of Sharjah
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Abstract

Background: The annual incidence of pediatric cancer in Bangladesh is around 9,000 cases per year. Over 80% of children die without proper diagnosis and adequate treatment. No systematic study has investigated the scale and nature of the socio-economic problems faced by these families on a day-to-day basis. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional exploratory study among 54 families in Bangladesh who had children with cancer. Results: Majority children were male (n=39, 72.2%) and most (n=38, 70.4%) were aged 6–15 years. The most common diagnosis was acute lymphocytic leukemia (n=25, 46.3%), followed by blood cancer (n=20, 37%). Many parents had stopped working because of their child’s cancer diagnosis (n=28, 51.9%). Seventeen (31.50%) families had a monthly income of USD 117–188; however, many families (n=21, 38.90%) spent more per month (e.g., USD 471–1,179) for their child’s treatment than their monthly income. Low income and high expenditure placed families under financial pressure as no external financial support was available to meet these costs. Participants also reported psychological issues such as anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation. Social issues were also of concerns, including avoidance by others because of fear, lack of awareness about cancer, stigma in rural communities, and low quality of facilities. Conclusion: This study revealed that childhood cancer has a substantial impact on parents’ socioeconomic status, and many families face financial, social, and psychological challenges. This highlights the need for urgent collaborative action to address these problems.