Cancer Caregiving

If you are a member of the media, please contact the Alliance at (301) 718-8444. 

Nearly three million Americans are currently caring for someone with cancer, and many play a key role in managing cancer, including helping their loved one adhere to treatment, make informed decisions, and even address end-of-life concerns. After dementia, cancer is the second most prevalent condition that requires the assistance of a family caregiver. 


For this reason, the National Alliance for Caregiving has commissioned a white paper on cancer caregiving in the United States, in partnership with the National Cancer Institute and the Cancer Support Community and with data analysis from Greenwald & Associates. It is made possible through a contract with the National Cancer Institute and generous sponsorship from the Cancer Support Community. The paper will compile cancer-specific data from Caregiving in the U.S. 2015, a joint project by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP Public Policy Institute. The Caregiving report surveyed more than 1,200 family caregivers and identified common challenges facing the caregiving community, including difficulty conducting medical and nursing tasks, challenges with balancing career and caregiving responsibilities, and financial strain.

Report & National Webinar 

Cancer Caregiving in the US Report (Download PDF)


The report, from the National Alliance for Caregiving in partnership with the National Cancer Institute and the Cancer Support Community, draws on a nationally representative data set to identify the special challenges of a friend or family member caring for a loved one with cancer. Highlights include:

  • Approximately 2.8 million people are caring for someone whose main problem or illness is cancer.
  • The typical cancer caregiver is a 53 year old woman, typically with less than a college degree and less than $75,000 in household income.
  • Most cancer caregivers support a relative (88%), usually a parent or parent-in-law (44%), a spouse or partner (16%) or a sibling or sibling-in-law (14%).
  • A primary role of cancer caregivers is to interact with health care providers, agencies, and professionals on behalf of their loved one – 82% communicate with health care professionals on behalf of the care recipient, 76% monitor the severity of their loved one’s condition, and 62% advocate on behalf of their care recipient with providers, community services, and government agencies.
  • A high majority of cancer caregivers (80%) report that the care recipient has been hospitalized at least once in the past year, an event significantly less common among non-cancer caregivers (52%).
  • Cancer caregivers typically have “helpers” in care – almost eight in ten report that their loved one lives with another person and seven in ten report that others help provide unpaid care.
  • The typical cancer caregiver provides care for just under two years (1.9) compared to caregivers for other conditions, who typically provide care for an average of 4.1 years.
  • Cancer caregivers, on average, are spending 32.9 hours a week providing care to their loved one and nearly a third of cancer caregivers provide care for 40 hours a week or more.
  • Compared to non-cancer caregivers, cancer caregivers are much more likely (72%) to be conducting medical and nursing tasks for their loved one. More than four in ten of these caregivers provide help with medical and nursing tasks without any prior training or instruction.
  • Caring for someone with cancer is more emotionally stressful than other types of caregiving – 50% of cancer caregivers report that they felt “highly stressed.” Four in ten caregivers report that they need help managing emotional and physical stress.
  • One ongoing challenge for cancer caregivers is the need for support during advanced stages of illness, with 40% of caregivers indicating that they needed help making end-of-life decisions.


Missed the webinar? Watch it here! 
Caring for a loved one with cancer is an intense, episodic experience. Find out more about cancer caregivers with leading research presentations from the National Alliance for Caregiving, the National Cancer Institute, the Cancer Support Community, and Greenwald & Associates. To watch the replay, click here!


Resources for Cancer Caregivers

Are you caring for a loved one with cancer? These resources may be very helpful to you. 


National Cancer Institute

Family caregivers may be spouses, partners, children, relatives, or friends who help the patient with activities of daily living and health care needs at home. Many cancer patients today receive part of their care at home. Hospital stays are shorter than they used to be, and there are now more treatments that don’t need an overnight hospital stay or can be given outside of the hospital. People with cancer are living longer and many patients want to be cared for at home as much as possible. It is important that the family caregiver is a part of the team right from the start. These resources are about adult family caregivers in cancer.


Cancer Experience Registry – Caregiver

The Cancer Experience Registry is a unique online community that allows people facing cancer to share their experiences, identify the issues that impact their lives, take surveys, access resources and learn from each other. It is free, confidential and open to anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer or provides care to a cancer patient.


Cancer Support Community Helpline: 1-888-793-9355 or to chat live at

The Cancer Support Community Helpline provides emotional and educational services for all people affected by cancer and their family caregivers. 


Cancer Support Community Affiliates & Support Groups for Caregivers 

The Cancer Support Community Affiliate Network consists of 44 licensed affiliates, 170 locations and a growing number of healthcare partnerships.


American Cancer Society – Caregivers Page

A cancer diagnosis affects close friends and family too. Find out what to expect if you become a caregiver for a person with cancer, and get tips for making sure that you take care of yourself as well. Resources available include information and support on How to Care for Someone with Cancer, Taking Care of Yourself as a Caregiver, How to Be Supportive to Someone with Cancer, When Your Child has Cancer, and a list of American Cancer Society Support Services and Programs for families who are managing cancer.


Help for Cancer Caregivers 

A collaboration of Anthem, Inc., CancerCare, Caregiver Action Network, Indiana University and Michigan State University, this website provides resources and news on caregiver caregiving. 


About Our Partners

About Cancer Support Community

Cancer Experience Registry - CaregiversAs the largest professionally led nonprofit network of cancer support worldwide, the Cancer Support Community (CSC) is dedicated to ensuring that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action and sustained by community. CSC achieves its mission through three areas: direct service delivery, research, and advocacy. The organization includes an international network of Affiliates that offer the highest quality social and emotional support for people impacted by cancer, as well as a community of support available online and over the phone. The Research and Training Institute conducts cutting-edge psychosocial, behavioral and survivorship research. If you are interested in helping to advance research on the cancer caregiver experience, please join the Cancer Experience Registry where caregivers and patients share their experiences to enhance cancer care. CSC furthers its focus on patient advocacy through its Cancer Policy Institute, informing public policy in Washington, D.C. and across the nation. For more information, please call the toll-free Cancer Support Helpline at 888-793-9355, or visit



About Greenwald & Associates

Greenwald & Associates is a leading full-service research firm with industry expertise in healthcare, financial services, & employee benefits. Conducting customized research for over 30 years, Greenwald & Associates has earned a reputation for extensive research knowledge, industry expertise, and commitment to serving the needs of our clients. For more information, please visit