Brave MacMillan Cancer Support say what has to be said

‘Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK face poor health or disability after being treated for cancer’, says a 2013 report from Macmillan Cancer Support.

The charity has calculated that at least one in four people treated are affected by long-term problems such as chronic fatigue, pain, sexual and urinary difficulties. These problems can occur when healthy cells are damaged during treatment.
With more people developing cancer than ever before Macmillan says patients should be offered continuing support after their treatment for cancer. Macmillan adds that there can be long-term physical and mental consequences to cancer treatment which often go untreated.

’Doubled-edged sword’

Currently, MacMillan estimate that 350,000 people are living with sexual difficulties, 240,000 with mental health problems, 150,000 are affected by urinary problems such as incontinence, and 90,000 are experiencing problems like diarrhoea and bleeding as a result of having had cancer.

Certain cancer treatments also increase the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis or other cancers in survivors.

According to Prof Jane Maher, Chief medical officer, Macmillan Cancer Support, “The better we get at treating and curing cancer patients, the more people we will have living with the long-term effects of cancer and its treatment.”

"Many of these problems can be managed using simple and inexpensive interventions by health professionals, while other more complex issues require specialist services."

Maher added that too many cancer survivors were suffering in silence.
Ciarán Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said the NHS had underestimated the severity of the issue. "We are urging them to ensure that all cancer patients receive a ’cancer recovery package’ at the end of their treatment offering ongoing support."

He added that no-one should be left to face the long-term consequences of cancer alone.

Well done MacMillan Cancer Support for bringing this important but politically sensitive issue to everyone’s attention.


July - Oct 2013 Cancer Watch
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