Newly-Diagnosed Cancer Patients Isolated By Lack of Support

A diagnosis of cancer can be a devastating blow but the fear and worry can often increase because patients don’t get enough support. The leading cancer charity, Macmillan Cancer Support, says around 70,000 people in the UK get no help from family and friends when they have been diagnosed with cancer.

That lack of support also means some patients refuse to go through particular treatments because, for example, they have no one who can take them to and from hospital appointments. Some patients reported that they either had no family or friends or those they did have lived too far away to offer any practical or emotional help.

The results of the Macmillan survey of almost 1,800 newly-diagnosed cancer patients suggests that one in four of them don’t have any outside help and revealed a feeling of isolation among many patients. Some told of how they had not seen family or friends in more than six months; that they struggled to keep themselves clean and that they go hungry and can’t take care of their home any longer.

That isolation manifested itself in more troubling ways, too – the survey suggests that one in 10 can’t make hospital or doctor appointments while 18% fail to collect their prescriptions.

A separate Macmillan survey revealed that health professionals say those patients who lack that support have a poorer quality of life. Half of those quizzed said the lack of support could affect the health outcomes of cancer patients, possibly even cutting life expectancy.

Macmillan Cancer Support wants health professionals to be more proactive and to intervene when patients don’t have a support network and provide them with information about organisations that can help to deal with the social isolation felt by those patients.


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