Work and money

Being diagnosed with cancer can have an impact on your finances.

You may not be able to work, or can only work part time, and you may have to pay for travel to treatment sessions. If a family member is caring for you, they may also need to stop working.


You have rights at work, and are protected from discrimination if you have cancer. Your employer must make reasonable adjustments (changes) to make sure you are not at a disadvantage at work. Talk to your employer about changes they can make to make it possible for you to carry on working if you want to. This will depend on the kind of job you have, but might include:

  • working part time
  • a flexible start or finish time
  • changing your duties
  • taking more breaks at work
  • working more from home.

If you or your family member are working, speak to your employer about your options. Some workplaces have an employee assistance programme which provides free advice to employees about a range of issues including work and benefits. Check with your HR department whether this is available.

Macmillan Cancer Support have more information about work and cancer. An organisation called Fit for Work provides free work related health advice.


Dealing with your financial situation is important so that it doesn’t become something you worry about. If you can, try to sort things out before they become a problem. There is lots of help available. Macmillan Cancer Support, Carers UK, Carers Trust and Citizens Advice can all give expert advice on work-related issues, benefits and financial matters.

These are some things that might help.

  • You and your family member may be able to claim for benefits, such as Carer’s Allowance. Macmillan Cancer Support have an online Benefits Checker, or you can call their support line for advice on financial issues.
  • Prescriptions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are free. In England, you can get free prescriptions if you are having treatment for cancer, or for symptoms and side effects. You will need to apply for a medical exemption certificate. Ask your GP, hospital or local pharmacy for a FP92A form.
  • You may be able to apply for a grant from a charity or fund, for example to help with bills, or buy equipment. The Elizabeth Coteman Fund provides grants to people with pancreatic cancer.
  • There is help available with the cost of travelling to hospital for treatment.
  • Ask your hospital about parking costs. Some hospitals offer free or cheaper parking for people who have to go to hospital for treatment regularly, but don’t need to stay overnight (an outpatient).
  • You may be able to get help with various health costs, like dental treatment, eye tests, glasses, and travel to hospital. Ask your GP or check online at the NHS Business Services Authority at
  • You may be able to get help with your heating bills. Ask your energy supplier if they provide any help to people with cancer. There are also government schemes to help with heating costs, or you could try switching to a cheaper supplier. Macmillan Cancer Support have more information about reducing your energy bills.
  • If you have an illness that can’t be cured, you may be eligible for benefits under the special rules for terminal illness (SRTI). Your claim might be fast-tracked and you could be paid at a higher rate. Marie Curie have more information about this.

“Money was a very big worry for my Dad. One call to a Macmillan benefits adviser helped sort things out for him. It’s no longer a worry.”

Updated September 2019

Review date September 2021