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Barriers To Cancer Care For Elder Homeless Men

Homelessness is a universal issue that continues to affect hundreds of nations worldwide. The UN estimates that, globally, at least 100 million individuals are homeless at any given time.

In Canada, at least 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness in any given year, 30,000+ Canadians are homeless on any given night, and 50,000+ Canadians per night are part of the "hidden homeless" — staying with friends or relatives on a temporary basis as they have nowhere else to go.

In the USA, about 3.5 million people experience homelessness annually, of whom 15 percent are chronically homeless (ie, have experienced home­lessness for at least a year or repeatedly), and 630,000 individuals experience homelessness each night.

The highest risk of homelessness

is among men aged 45–54 years.

Most homeless individuals in the USA were born between the 40s and 60s, and 20 percent are older than 50 years, an age at which most adults would need age­ appropriate cancer screening.

Homeless populations often have poor health, largely due to having inadequate or no access to health care, and are commonly overlooked in cancer research. This issue is further compounded by the fact that homeless people often have a history of chronic illness and high rates of mental illness and substance abuse, coupled with infrequent access to primary care.

Cancer is among the most common causes of mortality in homeless adults. However, information regarding appropriate cancer screening measures in homeless people is scarce.

Cancer-­related death rates are twice as high in

homeless adults as in the general population.

Few studies have reported on the specific barriers to cancer screening among homeless people. The available data indicates that barriers at the systems level include little or no access to a primary care physician; or not having been able to visit a clinic in the past year; and inadequate access to health ca