ONE in five of the 2,700 newly diagnosed cancer patients in Worcestershire - an estimated 500 patients each year - lack support from family and friends during their treatment and recovery, according to new research by Macmillan Cancer Support.
Of these, an estimated 200 people each year will receive no help whatsoever, facing cancer completely alone.
The Facing the Fight Alone report – which looks at the number, profile and experiences of isolated people living with cancer across the UK, found that the detrimental effects of isolation on the lives of people living with cancer are far-reaching.
More than half of isolated patients have skipped meals or not eaten properly due to a lack of support at home. More than one in four have not been able to wash themselves properly, while three in five have been unable to do household chores.
Isolation also makes it harder for cancer patients to self-manage their medical care. Over one in 10 have missed appointments to hospital or their GP, while one in six have been unable to pick up prescriptions for their medication.
David Crosby, general manager of Macmillan Cancer Support in Central and South West England said: “This research shows that isolation can have a truly shattering impact on people living with cancer. Patients are going hungry, missing medical appointments and even deciding to reject treatment altogether which could be putting their lives at risk — all because of a lack of support.
“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.”
Macmillan Cancer Support is calling on health professionals to adopt the recommendations in the Facing the Fight Alone report.
To read the Facing the Fight Alone report, or to find out more about the Not Alone campaign, see www.macmillan.org.uk.