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Thursday, 1 June, 2000, 23:54 GMT 00:54 UK
Cancer treatment 'impersonal'
receiving chemotherapy
Dealing with cancer is tough for patients
Many cancer patients believe that hospital staff could do more to help them cope with the disease, according to a survey.

A particular complaint highlighted was that patients felt "like a number" rather than a person.

It has left me with mental scars which could have been alleviated with kindness and compassion and understanding

Cancer patient
Patients also wanted to be given more information about their condition and the treatment they were getting.

The research was carried out by Macmillan Cancer Relief, which provides support to cancer patients.

People were asked what would have improved their experience of cancer.

One in six said they had not received the support they needed, or the opportunity to talk about the illness with doctors and nurses.

Many complained that they had been forced to wait too long for diagnosis of cancer, or for treatment to start.

And another one in six said they had not been supplied with the information they needed to cope, or help to claim benefits and make domestic arrangements when ill.

'Cold, clinical and professional'

One told the survey: "I felt that it was my condition that was being treated and not the person.

"The whole experience, apart from being a complete nightmare, was very cold, clinical and professional. It has left me with mental scars which could have been alleviated with kindness and compassion and understanding."

Macmillian chief executive Nicholas Young said: "People living with cancer want to be treated as individuals, and it is clear that the way in which people are treated affected their overall experience.

"We will report the results of our survey to the government and the National Cancer Director, Professor Mike Richards, and seek improvements in treatment and care for people with cancer."

Jean Mossman, the chief executive of CancerBacup, a charity which provides information and support to cancer patients, said: "We know that doctors and nurses cannot give patients the kind of time that they need, but there are specialist organisations like CancerBacup which can.

"Patients and carers should be told where they can find the support they need."

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08 Mar 00 | Health
GPs' bedside manner targeted
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