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Cancer

It is essential to have travel insurance if you are a cancer sufferer because you may have to be brought home, or have treatment abroad, in an emergency or if you become ill. This can be very costly, but your cancer travel insurance will allow you to have complete peace of mind.

 

How easy is it to get travel insurance with cancer?

It can be difficult to find travel insurance for people with cancer. Some insurers will be reluctant to offer cover because of the increased likelihood that cancer patients will claim. 

It is therefore extremely important to ensure that you are covered for any emergency medical problems while travelling by obtaining a specialist medical travel insurance policy in advance. 

It may be difficult for you to find travel insurance to cover your cancer, but Our Travel Insurance is a specialist in medical travel insurance and as such, we can provide annual or single trip cancer travel insurance to worldwide destinations. 

During our online quote process you will be asked questions about your cancer diagnosis, the severity of your condition and your prognosis. With Our Travel Insurance it is possible to get cover even if you are terminal cancer patient (subject to the length of the prognosis). 

After you have provided us the information about your cancer, you will be presented with several quotations from the medical travel insurance providers who are able to offer you cover. You can then choose the quote which best suits your needs. 

Do I still need medical travel insurance if I have recovered from cancer?

As you may already know, it can still be tricky to find travel insurance even if you are a cancer survivor. Even if you are in remission, you may still require specialist medical travel insurance. 

It is important that you disclose your medical history honestly and in full when obtaining travel insurance. Failure to disclose any relevant details about a condition, even if you have recovered, can mean that an insurer may refuse to pay a claim. 

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

In addition to holiday insurance for cancer patients, if you are travelling to a country within Europe, you should always carry a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). You can apply for a card online.  

Talk to a medical professional

Whether you are an elderly person or a younger person travelling with cancer it is important to talk to a medical professional. They may be able to make suggestions on a good time to travel, as well as helping to decide what is realistic for you based on your personal condition.

Planning

You should start planning at least 4 to 6 weeks before you are due to travel. It is advisable that you travel with a medical summary that includes the following: 

  • Diagnosis

  • Recent and ongoing treatment

  • Photocopy of recent chemotherapy/radiotherapy summary

  • Medication

  • Contact details (including family members, General Practitioner, Oncology team) 

 

Destination decisions

For many, travelling with cancer will have little or no impact on their holiday. However, you should think about the arduousness of the journey and how many stopovers there are and consider the other tips below.

Holiday timing

On some occasions it may be necessary to advise a delay to the planned journey if you have recently completed, are currently undergoing, or due to start certain treatments e.g. chemotherapy. Do not automatically cancel your holiday; however, as quite often simple re-arrangements can be made to allow a holiday to take place. In some cases Radiotherapy can be planned before the holiday and started on return – this doesn’t delay the treatment because there may well be a week or so gap between the planning and start.

Healthcare

You may want to understand more about the standard and provision of healthcare in the destination country. A good point of contact would be the relevant High Commission, Embassy or Consulate. If there is concern that the destination is a country or area lacking in suitable medical facilities, it may be wise to consider an alternative that has a better standard of healthcare. If the destination is remote (even in a developed country) then healthcare is likely to be more basic, which should also be a consideration. 

Complimentary/alternative therapies

You should be very cautious of any alternative therapies while you are travelling. Some herbal remedies may contain substances that interact with prescribed medication. You should always check with your cancer specialist before you go. 

Flying

Problems directly linked to a patient’s cancer are rare. However, there is neither the skill nor the facilities on commercial aircraft to care for seriously ill people for any extended period of time, and airline staff may refuse to carry passengers whom they feel are too unwell to travel. You may want to clarify: 

1. If it is possible to check-in or board the plane earlier

2. Whether a wheelchair could be made available (and any charges relating to this service)

3. What medical equipment (if any) will be allowed on the aircraft.

4. People with cancer, particularly some types of lung, stomach and bowel cancer, have a higher risk of DVT, so the length of your flight should be considered. See your doctor before you travel and read NHS tips on preventing flight-related DVT, which include exercises and compression stockings.

Vaccinations

In some cases, you may not be able to have the required vaccinations for the intended destination. Live vaccines are best avoided in patients who have a weakened immune system (this includes lymphoma, leukaemia, chemotherapy within previous 6 months; stem cell/bone marrow transplant within previous 6 months). If you’ve had chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, you may have lost your immunity to diseases that you were previously vaccinated against. Therefore, you may need new jabs. You should always check with your GP.

Medication

If you are taking any cancer medication and are planning to travel with your cancer medication, you ensure you know how much you need to take with you and get those prescriptions before you go (ensuring you have an extra supply in case you lose any). Some cancer drugs may leave you susceptible to infection for several weeks after treatment, and you should factor this into your planning. 

1. Keep all medications in original packaging

2. Travel with your original prescription

3. Keep a list of all your medicines (including the generic names) and doses in your purse or wallet, just in case you lose any of them or you run out.

4. Find out if you need a letter from your GP explaining to customs officers your need to carry certain medicines, syringes or portable medicine pumps. Some GPs charge for writing a letter, so if you travel frequently, ask them to write it in such a way that it can be used more than once.

5. Check with a pharmacist what the availability of a particular medication in the country of destination is. It is worth noting that brand names of drugs often differ abroad.

6. If you need to keep medicines cool, buy a small cool bag from a pharmacy for the journey. Check whether your room at your destination has a fridge.

7. Travelling across time zones can affect when you take regular medicines. Your doctor or pharmacist can help you plan adjusting the times of your medicines.

8. More info can be found at NHS

Oxygen requirements

If you require long-term oxygen therapy, you should arrange supply at your destination country before you travel. Your UK oxygen provider should be able to arrange for supplementary oxygen to be available at the destination, although there may be a charge. You should get details of who to contact at the holiday destination if problems arise regarding the supplementary oxygen supply. Although commercial aircrafts do have an emergency oxygen supply, it is only intended for use in an emergency. If there is likelihood that you will require supplementary oxygen during the flight, you should raise this with the airline at the time of booking. The healthcare provision of many major airlines are summarised on the British Lung Foundation website (www.britishlungfoundation.org)

Avoiding diarrhoea and vomiting

Diarrhoea and vomiting can be debilitating to individuals who are generally in good health, but can be devastating to a patient travelling with cancer. 

If you are unsure about the cleanliness of the piped water supply the you should boil all water before drinking or cleaning teeth. For additional safety, only use bottled water (ensure that the cap is sealed). 

  • Avoid ice in drinks where cleanliness is in doubt 

  • Avoid unpasteurised milk 

  • Avoid foods which have been left lying about or reheated 

  • Eat food that is freshly and thoroughly cooked whilst still hot 

  • Avoid food that has been exposed to flies

Taking care in the sun

Some cancer patients may be more sensitive to the direct effects of the sun due to chemotherapy regimes or radiotherapy. High-factor sun block (SPF 15 or higher) is recommended, as is the wearing of loose, cotton clothing.