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Support crucial for cancer patients

12 August 2014 10:11

Cancer patients need the support of friends and family

Cancer patients need the support of friends and family

Cancer patients who feel lonely are far more likely to encounter problems with their treatment plans, a charity has said.

Macmillan Cancer Support says sufferers who feel on their own are three times more likely to experience difficulties as those who don't.

The cancer charity surveyed more than 1,000 people across the UK who have been told they have the disease.

It revealed that almost a quarter (22%) have felt lonely since diagnosis.

Nearly a third (31%) of those feeling lonely have faced at least one problem with their treatment plan, compared to only 11% of those who feel fully supported.

And that support doesn't solely need to be at the home - with specialist cancer travel insurance patients can join their family and loved ones on holiday, while retaining peace of mind.

Jacqui Graves, head of health and social care at Macmillan Cancer Support, says lonely cancer sufferers often lack the practical support they need to leave the house and attend medical appointments.

Living in rural or remote areas and being unable to drive can also make it more difficult to collect prescriptions or medication.

She added that some patients only attend appointments when they are persuaded to by friends and family.

Macmillian chief executive Ciaran Devane describes loneliness as "particularly toxic" to cancer sufferers. He said it is "simply unacceptable" that many cancer sufferers are putting their recovery at risk due to a lack of support.

Mr Devane urged for more to done to tackle the issue of loneliness, saying that with the UK's living-with-cancer population expected to double to four million by 2030, the problem is only likely to get bigger.

He called on health professionals to identify lonely patients and help them find the support available so they don't end up suffering their disease alone.