Homeless With Cancer: An Unrecognized Problem in the United States

Barbara A. Biedrzycki

homelessness, access to health care, smoking cessation, palliative care
CJON 2018, 22(6), 676-679. DOI: 10.1188/18.CJON.676-679

Homelessness is a national problem that is worsening. Some challenges the homeless face—lack of shelter, food, health care, support, and opportunities—are well known. Cancer, an unrecognized problem among the homeless, is a leading cause of their deaths.


  • Homelessness is a complex situation resulting from internal and structural factors.
  • Homelessness makes cancer even more challenging because of lack of resources, a peaceful environment, and family and friends.
  • Increasing awareness of homelessness, knowing about healthcare resources, counseling on smoking cessation, and advocating for better cancer care are some ways oncology nurses can make a difference to people who are homeless.
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