28 March 2013
The soaring number of people surviving cancer should for the first time be given comprehensive emotional and social care support, as well as medical treatment, Public Health Minister Anna Soubry and Macmillan Cancer Support Chief Executive, Ciarán Devane, announced today (29 March).
As people are being diagnosed with cancer earlier and treatments have become more sophisticated and successful, more and more people are surviving cancer but many are struggling to get back to normality.
A national survey of cancer patients suggests a quarter (25 per cent) feel isolated to some extent after treatment1. Almost one in three (30 per cent) say they have numerous issues that are not being addressed. These include fear of their cancer spreading and not having the same member of staff they can speak to about all aspects of their condition2.
The Department of Health and Macmillan, along with other charities, have worked together to develop an assessment and care planning process to give patients the best quality of life after surviving cancer. This is a support checklist for doctors and nurses to make sure cancer patients are receiving the necessary practical, physical and emotional support depending on their need.
Public Health Minister Anna Soubry said:
'In 2010, there were 1.8 million people living with and beyond cancer in England and this is set to rise to 3.4 million people by 20303. This joint document calls on NHS England and local NHS teams to take urgent action and consider our recommendations when they provide cancer services based on their local community’s needs.
'Whether it’s specialist help to get back to work or being recommended to do a physical activity group, local NHS teams need to consider providing a new range of care services for cancer survivors to tackle their needs and improve their quality of life.'
Macmillan Cancer Support Chief Executive, Ciarán Devane said:
'We have worked long and hard with the Department of Health to develop this Recovery Package of services. Many cancer patients feel isolated after treatment and are crying out for this type of personalised support.
'If the NHS does one thing for cancer survivors it should be to commission this Recovery Package for its local population. We also need to keep on top of how cancer patients’ quality of life is affected long-term. To do so, the NHS England’s survey of cancer patients4 needs after treatment must continue.'
The Department of Health and Macmillan worked jointly with the NHS and other charities to understand the issues, develop services and test them to see how current levels of support and care given to cancer patients can be improved. The National Cancer Survivorship Initiative – the joint partnership – found that:
• cancer patients are not always getting the emotional, social and medical support they need following their treatment;
• as more patients survive cancer, more will be affected by the consequences of treatment and will require varying levels of support; and
• if services modify the way they provide support this can have a big impact on people’s lives.
Research shows that cancer survivors who take moderate levels of physical activity have a better quality of life5. For some cancers it even reduces the risk of cancer recurring and dying from the disease6. Clinical Commissioning Groups, who will be in charge of providing services for cancer survivorship from 1 April, should consider how to make physical activity programmes available for cancer patients.
By having healthcare professionals working with patients with a support checklist after their treatment, both will have a better understanding of what complications could arise in the future. It will also provide patients with information on where to get emotional support, the importance of physical activity and healthy eating, in order to help them have control of their health and wellbeing.
Notes to editors
1. For press enquiries, please contact Department of Health press office on 0207 210 5301 or Macmillan press office on 0207 840 4689 firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. In September 2008, the Department of Health and Macmillan Cancer Support launched the National Cancer Survivorship Initiative (NCSI). The NCSI is a partnership between the Department of Health, Macmillan Cancer Support and supported by NHS Improvement.
3. The aim of the NCSI is, by 2015, to have taken the necessary steps to ensure that those living with and beyond cancer are supported to lead as healthy and active a life as possible, for as long as possible.
4. These recommendations are laid out in Living With and Beyond Cancer: Taking Action to Improve Outcomes, published on 29 March 2013.
5. This document has been jointly agreed by Department of Health, Macmillan Cancer Support and NHS England, who, from 1 April, will be in charge of commissioning cancer survivorship services locally.
About Macmillan Cancer Support
More than one in three of us will get cancer. For most of us it will be the toughest fight we ever face. And the feelings of isolation and loneliness that so many people experience make it even harder.
But you don’t have to go through it alone. The Macmillan team is with you every step of the way.
We are the nurses and therapists helping you through treatment. The experts on the end of the phone. The advisers telling you which benefits you’re entitled to. The volunteers giving you a hand with the everyday things. The campaigners improving cancer care. The community there for you online, any time. The supporters who make it all possible.
Together, we are all Macmillan Cancer Support
1. Department of Health. Quality of Life of Cancer Survivors in England – Report on a pilot survey using Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMS). December 2012. 25% of respondents reported some degree of isolation at the end of treatment.
2: Armes et al. Patients' Supportive Care Needs Beyond the End of Cancer Treatment: A Prospective, Longitudinal Survey. JCO 2009; 27: 6172-6179. 30% of patients reported five or more unmet needs at the end of treatment.
3. Macmillan Cancer Support estimates of prevalence at the end of 2010 and 2030 by nation calculated by applying prevalence rates per 100,000 population for the UK by age band from Maddams J, Utley M, Møller H. Projections of cancer prevalence in the United Kingdom, 2010-2040. Br J Cancer 2012; 107: 1195-1202. (Projection scenario 1 presented here) to population estimates for 2010, and 2030 from the Office for National Statistics. Estimates made by nation for the end of 2010 and 2030 assuming that the rates for the UK are consistent across each nation.
4. This refers to the expansion of the Department of Health’s Quality of Life of Cancer Survivors in England pilot surveys using Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMS).
5. Department of Health. Quality of Life of Cancer Survivors in England – Report on a pilot survey using Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMS). December 2012. Exercise made a substantial positive difference on questions related to mobility, self care, undertaking usual activities, maintaining independence, undertaking domestic chores, managing their own personal care, looking after those who depended on them, having difficulty getting around, and undertaking their usual activities.
6. Macmillan Cancer Support (2011) Move More: Physical activity the underrated ‘wonder drug’. This report highlights evidence reviewed as part of Macmillan’s more detailed 2011 report ‘The importance of physical activity for people living with and beyond cancer: A concise evidence review.