10 February 2015
A massive 220,000 people living in Scotland are estimated to have been diagnosed with cancer – a record high and an increase of around 33,000 people in just five years1. That's enough to fill Hamdpen Park four times.
The figures released by Macmillan Cancer Support, represent a 18% rise in the number of people in Scotland living with cancer since 2010.
Across the UK, 2.5m people are living with cancer, up almost half a million in just five years.
Macmillan say many of these people will need support to cope with the long term impacts cancer can often have, from physical side effects like extreme fatigue to psychological problems.
Research shows around one in four (25%) people with a cancer diagnosis face poor health or disability after treatment2. Many people also face significant emotional, financial and practical problems.
Macmillan’s head in Scotland, Janice Preston, said: “With the number of people living with cancer increasing each year, the seriousness of the challenge facing us cannot be overstated.
“The current NHS system was not set up to deal with the needs of such a huge number of people who have survived cancer but who often continue to require considerable support.
“Without a complete transformation in how people are supported after their treatment ends, there is no way patients will get the support they desperately need, whether that’s help to cope at home, financial help or even emotional support.
“It’s vital the Scottish Government, NHS and Social Care Services use the forthcoming integration of health and social care to recognise the scale of the challenge and commit to making the big changes needed to meet it.”
One man who agrees with this is 48-year-old dad of two Alan Clarke.
The former advertising executive, who now works in the music industry, was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in 2008.
Alan, from Newton Mearns, underwent a 12-hour operation as well as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
While the treatment was essential to get rid of the cancer, the long term impacts of the illness and treatment have been huge.
Alan said: "It's only once treatment finishes and one is back living a 'normal' life that just how not normal things will ever be again strikes home.
"For me that impacted on my work as I could no longer do my old job. It impacted on me emotionally, leaving me dealing with many mental gremlins.
“It also impacted on my everyday communication as the chemo affected my hearing, and the surgery and radiotherapy affected my speech.
"People who've been through cancer treatment see professionals at prescribed times but issues don't crop up on a prescribed schedule so one is left to either just get on with things or to impose on the medical people's busy schedules. There needs to be a more flexible and dynamic approach.”
Macmillan is already working with the Scottish Government, NHS and local authorities to fund the £5m Transforming Care After Treatment programme.
Launched in June 2013, the programme is funding pilot projects throughout the NHS and in local authorities to test better ways of supporting cancer patients after treatment ends.
The charity say lessons learned from this programme must be used to transform how patients are supported throughout Scotland.