11 March 2008
Five or more years after a cancer diagnosis, one in five survivors in the UK considers themselves to be in poor or extremely poor health.
According to Macmillan Cancer Support (1), survivors have revealed they suffer from a wide range of lasting effects of cancer, including insomnia, aches and pains, poor appetite, urinary and neurological problems as well as difficulties in managing day to day activities.
The positive news is that the remaining four out of five cancer survivors consider themselves to be in very good to average health however, they too are frequently using medical services, taking time off work and reporting similar lasting effects.
Professor Mike Richards, National Cancer Director says, "Macmillan's latest UK research confirms what we always suspected, that the experience of cancer survivors in the UK, reflects those in America. Some research on survivorship has been carried out in the USA but this is the first time the issues has been looked at amongst adult survivors of cancer in the UK."
The focus for UK cancer services, until now has mainly been on diagnosis and treatment and not on providing long-term support for people.
Ciarán Devane, Macmillan Cancer Support's Chief Executive says, "There is a serious lack of joined-up aftercare for cancer survivors. They feel like they
have fallen off the radar and have no idea where to turn to for support. We are committed to changing this."
In partnership with the Department of Health, Macmillan Cancer Support has invited health service leaders, charities and academics from the UK and America to a Think Tank on Monday and Tuesday 10/11 March in London, to consider the issues of cancer survivors and look at how support can be best provided in the future.
(1) "The Health and Well-being of Cancer Survivors in the UK" prepared by RDSi, February 2008 on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support