Thousands of cancer sufferers in the UK are fighting the disease alone, with 23% of patients lacking support from family and friends during treatment and recovery.
Macmillan Cancer Support carried out a survey of 1,794 cancer patients in the UK, as well as questioning 155 health professionals who treat people living with cancer.
Writing in a report called Facing the Fight Alone, the charity found that an estimated 70,000 cancer sufferers are isolated from family and friends.
A third of those patients, around 20,000 a year, will receive no help during their treatment and recovery at all. 12% said they had not had a visit from family or friends in more than six months.
Lack of support meant that 53% of isolated patients have skipped meals or not eaten properly.
Common reasons patients lack support include family members and friends living far away or having other commitments, or simply having no one to turn to.
18% say they have actually lost touch because of their cancer diagnosis, and 80% say the financial impact of cancer means they cannot afford to see their loved ones as much.
Isolation also impacts on medical treatment itself. 11% admitted to missing appointments to the hospital or their GP, and 18% have been unable to pick up prescriptions. 53% of health professionals questioned have had patients opt to not have treatment at all because of lack of support.
Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, says: “But these figures are just the tip of the iceberg. As the number of people living with cancer is set to double from two to four million by 2030, isolation will become an increasing problem and we need to address this now.
“That’s why we are launching a new campaign to help tackle this crisis and to ensure that in future, no-one faces cancer alone.”
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2013