Purpose: Disparities in cancer treatment for geographical and socioeconomic reasons have been demonstrated in several countries. In Valais, a canton in Switzerland, to travel to one of the oncology wards can be time consuming, cost intensive and make support by relatives or external persons and institutions necessary.
Method: We investigated which kind of support cancer patients in Valais need today to make a treatment possible, quantified it and identified subgroups with particular needs. All patients who came in February 2012 for a consultation or an ambulant therapy to one of the four centres of the “Département Valaisan d’Oncologie” or the unique private practice in the region were asked to answer to a questionnaire. Results were summarised and analysed.
Results: 84% of the patients need support. 40% of the patients need two or more kinds of support. Kind and quantity of support depend on gender, age and distance. Cancer patients in Valais need support to make their treatments possible. Some subgroups have a complex pattern of support and need specific assistance as younger women or elderly patients.
Conclusions: We demonstrate that cancer patients in Valais need social support to handle their treatment days and that their out of the pocket travel expenses increase rapidly with distance. The pattern of support needed varies according to patient characteristics as gender, age and distance to treatment centre.