Cancer patients ‘struggling alone’

Many cancer patients are struggling alone, charity says

One in four patients surveyed lacked support

Thousands of cancer patients struggle to administer their treatment and recovery because they get no support from family or friends, a charity has said.

A survey by Macmillan Cancer Support suggests one in four newly-diagnosed patients lacks support.

It equates to about 70,000 people within the UK struggling to appear after themselves without a help.

The research also found greater than half doctors have had patients refuse treatment as a result of an absence of support.

About 325,000 patients are diagnosed with cancer per annum within the UK.

A survey of virtually 1,800 patients found that folks lacked support because friends and family lived too far-off, had other commitments, or patients simply had no-one to show to.

Of those questioned, 12% said they’d not had a trip from family or friends in additional than six months.

Half of these who said they were isolated had skipped meals or not eaten properly because of loss of help.

And greater than 1 / 4 have been unable to clean themselves properly, while 60% had not been ready to do household chores.

Missed appointments

Isolation had also had an impact on treatment itself with one in 10 missing medical appointments and 18% unable to select up prescriptions.

Most health professionals questioned in a separate survey agreed that loss of support at home caused a poorer quality of life for patients and half believed it can even cut patients’ life expectancy.

Macmillan Cancer Support has launched a report calling on health professionals to invite patients in regards to the support they’ve and direct them to other sources of help.

Chief executive Ciaran Devane says isolation could have a really shattering impact on people living with cancer.

“Patients are going hungry, missing medical appointments or even deciding to reject treatment altogether that can be putting their lives in danger – all due to an absence of support.

“But these figures are only the end of the iceberg.

“Because the variety of people living with cancer is decided to double from two to four million by 2030, isolation turns into an increasing problem and we have to address this now.”

Lis Blyth, 66, from Surrey, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008.

She said living alone and having no energy during her treatment meant she lived on ready-made meals.

“There have been days after I went to bed having had nothing greater than a tumbler of milk and a biscuit because i used to be too exhausted to cook.

“That was four years ago, but even now, because of the long-term negative effects of the treatment, I’m often still too exhausted to get on a bus and shop for food.”

She added that once her initial diagnosis, not one of the hospital staff she came into contact with asked how she was or if she could support herself at home.

Martin Ledwick, Cancer Research UK’s head information nurse, said: “Health professionals should check about a person patient’s social circumstances.

“But it is important they’re prepared with lists of support groups and other available resources if you want to recommend these to a patient who seems to be socially isolated.”