Long-term cancer survivors are struggling to maintain working lives and careers because of a lack of support, a cancer charity has warned.
Of the two million people living with or after cancer across the UK, more than 1.2 million were diagnosed more than five years ago, Macmillan Cancer Support has said. Yet a poll found that current services for people living with or after cancer do not meet most of their expectations.
More than nine in 10 said they would expect a full assessment of their ongoing needs and to be able to discuss potential side-effects of cancer treatment and how to manage them, although this is not currently standard practice.
A similar proportion said they wanted access to a personalised care plan to support them once their treatment was over, but again, such support was rare.
The charity has called on the government to introduce a range of standard measures, including:
a post-treatment assessment and care plan offered to everyone who finishes treatment
that people should be given information about possible consequences of cancer and its treatment
that people be given advice and support on lifestyle and how to manage the long-term consequences of their conditions.
Blood clots, nerve damage, lymphoedema, hot flushes, impotence, depression and anxiety are just some of the physical and emotional long-term problems that can affect cancer survivors, the charity added.
Mike Hobday, head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “It’s great that people are surviving cancer, but we cannot desert them after their initial treatment is over. That’s why we’re urging the government to see this issue as a priority and take action now.”