2 May 2014
Macmillan Cancer Support’s first ever state-of-the-nation report on the issues that matter most to cancer patients reveals that tens of thousands of UK cancer patients are diagnosed too late, shown a lack of compassion, or denied a ‘good’ death.
Cancer in the UK 2014 shows that one in three (32%) people with cancer die within a year of diagnosis[i], suggesting for many their cancer is diagnosed too late. One in four people with cancer are diagnosed via an emergency admission, and those diagnosed this way are on average twice as likely to die within a year than those diagnosed via an urgent GP referral[ii].
The UK also has the lowest one-year survival rates for four cancer types (colorectal, lung, breast and ovarian) compared with five countries that all have similar health systems and levels of wealth (Australia, Canada, Sweden, Denmark and Norway)[iii].
As well as being diagnosed too late, too many people with cancer are being shown a lack of compassion. While NHS staff deliver exceptional care daily, almost a fifth (19%) of cancer patients felt treated as a ‘set of symptoms’ rather than a person, while one in six (17%) said doctors spoke to them as if they weren’t there[iv]. A major factor for this is unhappy staff. In hospitals where staff experience discrimination and are not valued, cancer patients are 18 times more likely to receive poor care.
Furthermore many people with cancer are also being denied a ‘good’ death. While 73%[v] want to die at home, fewer than a third (30%) are able to do so[vi] and more than half (57%) did not have complete pain relief in the last three months of their lives[vii].
But by 2020 almost half of the population will have a cancer diagnosis in their lifetimes[viii] but our health and social care systems are being too slow to react to the growing number of people getting and surviving cancer.
Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“Any notions that cancer care in the UK is ‘fixed’ are rubbished by our findings.
“While the NHS does amazing things every day, it is a national shame that our cancer survival rates are amongst the worst in Europe, that patients are being treated with a lack of dignity, or being denied a ‘good’ death.
“Cancer patients no longer either simply get cured or die. Many live a long-time but struggle with serious health problems. With the number of people living with cancer set to increase, political parties must ask themselves - how will we cope with these growing numbers when we cannot even meet the needs of many people today?
“This report must be a wake-up call to this Government and next to make sure cancer remains a top health priority. With a UK cancer crisis looming, we must take action now.”
Macmillan Cancer Support is urging all Westminster parties to prioritise cancer and commit to the following in their manifestos:
1. Delivering cancer outcomes that match the best in Europe – particularly by reducing late diagnosis, investing in care after treatment by delivering the cancer Recovery Package, and addressing the needs of older people
2. Ensuring all cancer patients are treated with the highest levels of dignity and respect – and supporting staff to deliver this
3. Improving end-of-life care for people with cancer by delivering free social care for people at the end of their life in the UK, to enable them to spend their final weeks and days in the place of their choice
Cancer in the UK 2014 also reveals that many people affected by cancer feel abandoned after treatment, face isolation and experience long-term physical, emotional and financial issues.
To view the report visit: http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Documents/AboutUs/WhatWeDo/CancerintheUK2014.pdf
For further information, please contact:
Sarah Ross, Media & PR Manager, Macmillan Cancer Support
0207 840 4722 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
Cancer in the UK 2014, the first in a regular series of state-of-the-nation reports from Macmillan Cancer Support, shows for the first time how the UK is performing on the issues that matter most to people with cancer. We have carried out a comprehensive review of the available evidence and applied it to Macmillan’s ‘Nine Outcomes’ – nine statements that people with cancer have told us they want to be able to say about their cancer experience. It is our vision that every person living with cancer will be able to say that the Nine Outcomes are true for them by 2030.
About Macmillan Cancer Support
When you have cancer, you don’t just worry about what will happen to your body, you worry about what will happen to your life. Whether it’s concerns about who you can talk to, planning for the extra costs or what to do about work, at Macmillan we understand how a cancer diagnosis can take over everything.
That’s why we’re here. We provide support that helps people take back control of their lives. But right now, we can’t reach everyone who needs us. We need your help to make sure that people affected by cancer get the support they need to face the toughest fight of their life. No one should face cancer alone, and with your support no one will.
To get involved, call 0300 1000 200 today. And please remember, we’re here for you too. If you’d like support, information or just to chat, call us free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk