Treatable but not curable cancer

At least 130,000 people in the UK are living with 'treatable but not curable' cancer. This is cancer that can very rarely be cured, but can be treated to help manage symptoms or slow the progression of the cancer and extend people’s lives.

Some people will have treatable but not curable cancer from the moment they are diagnosed. Others develop it if their cancer progresses or comes back. You may hear some of these cancers described as advanced or incurable. 

While not curable, these cancers are generally considered treatable if treatments are available that could be used to slow the progression of the cancer and help people to manage their symptoms.

Advances in treatment and care mean people can now live for several years with treatable but not curable cancer. Some people will live for many years. In some cases, it may at times feel like living with a long-term condition such as multiple sclerosis or type 1 diabetes.

What kind of support do people need?

People with treatable but not curable cancer may need a great deal of emotional, physical and financial support. Most have times when they need repeated tests, procedures, treatments and hospital appointments. Many face uncertainty every day and have specific needs that can change over time, such as what kind of information they need about their cancer.

If you have treatable but not curable cancer, Macmillan is right there with you to provide information and support. We’re also campaigning to make sure there are enough staff with the right skills to give people the support they need.

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Ways we can help

If you're living with treatable but not curable cancer, we'll help you live life as you fully as you can. Our Support Line is open 7 days a week, 8am-8pm. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00. You can talk to us about any worries or questions you may have about your cancer.

  • Coping with advanced cancer

    Find out what support is available to help you cope when you have been diagnosed with advanced cancer.

  • Incurable cancer forum

    A group on our Online Community specifically for people with an incurable or terminal diagnosis.

  • Financial support

    If cancer is affecting your finances, find out how we can make money one less worry.

  • Planning for the future

    Get information about ways to plan ahead and make choices about your future care if you have advanced cancer.

Types of treatable but not curable cancer

Macmillan worked with a group of clinical experts to categorise certain types of cancer as treatable but not curable. Doctors generally agree that, with current standard treatment, curing these cancer types is very unlikely.

However, we know everyone with cancer is different. If you have a cancer type listed below, but are not sure if it means your cancer is treatable but not curable, please speak to one of the health professionals involved in your care. 

You can also call our free Support Line, 7 days a week, 8am-8pm on 0808 808 00 00.

Types of treatable but not curable cancer

Some people develop treatable but not curable cancer if they have a different type of cancer (not listed above) that progresses or comes back.

If you're looking for information about a cancer not shown above, our list of cancer types has information about cancer, diagnosis, treatment and support.

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Just been diagnosed with cancer?

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, we can send you relevant information to help with the physical, financial and emotional effects of cancer.

Living with treatable but not curable cancer