Background Although recent studies have increasingly reported physical and psychological problems associated with cancer and its treatment, social problems of cancer patients and their families have not been sufficiently elucidated. The present study aimed to identify cancer-associated social problems from the perspectives of both patients and their spouses and to compare and analyze differences in their problems. Methods This was a cross-sectional internet-based study. Subjects were 259 patients who developed cancer within the previous five years and 259 patients’ spouses; the data were derived from two surveys in 2010 (patients) and 2016 (spouses) whose participants were not part of the same dyad but matched by propensity scores, estimated for age, sex, and the presence or absence of recurrence. We investigated the social difficulties of cancer patients and patients’ spouses. Regarding social difficulties experienced by cancer patients and spouses, the 60 patient survey items were categorized into 14 labels by the Jiro Kawakita (KJ) method, which is a qualitative synthesis method developed by Kawakita to classify categorical data. Results Although patients had higher scores on most subcategories, young spouses aged 39 or younger and female spouses had difficulty scores as high as the corresponding patients on many subcategories. Conclusion Health care providers should show sufficient concern for both patients and their spouses, particularly young and female spouses.