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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 April 2006, 23:02 GMT 00:02 UK
Cancer patients 'feel isolated'
Man
Coping with emotional trauma can be hard
Cancer patients do not get the support they need to come to terms with their illness, a survey has indicated.

The Macmillan Cancer Support study found 49% of respondents experienced depression and 75% felt anxiety.

Some 24% said they had nobody to talk to, 19% felt isolated, and 45% said the emotional effects of cancer were harder to handle than the physical ones.

More than 120 of the 1,751 people surveyed said they had broken up with their partner owing to their cancer.

This report paints a vivid picture of the overwhelming impact a cancer diagnosis has on the lives of the person diagnosed and their family and friends
Peter Cardy

Almost a third (32%) said their relationships were put under enormous strain and 26% said they had "real difficulties" in their relationships as a result of their diagnosis.

And 43% of those surveyed felt their sex life had suffered as a result of the illness.

The report also found that 26% of people with cancer felt abandoned by the health system when they were not in hospital.

They were heavily reliant on carers for both practical and emotional support - mostly partners or family.

Big killer

Cancer is the UK's biggest killer, and the number of people living with it continues to rise.

Each year in the UK more than 275,000 people are diagnosed with cancer and an estimated 1.2 million people have been diagnosed with it at some point.

Peter Cardy, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, which has changed its name from Macmillan Cancer Relief, said: "This report paints a vivid picture of the overwhelming impact a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment has on the lives of the person diagnosed and their family and friends.

"It exposes shocking gaps in the support offered to cancer patients and their loved ones."

Mr Cardy called on the government to create and fund services to "meet the unmet needs" identified in the report.

Joanne Rule, chief executive of the charity Cancerbackup, welcomed the survey.

She said: "If you feel it is your tumour being treated rather than you, you can end up feeling lost and emotionally overwhelmed.

"That's what people tell us time and time again.

"The time has now come for a second cancer plan which looks at all the issues involved in a patient¿s journey."

The Department of Health declined to comment.




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