NHS 'woefully unprepared' to handle cancer survivors
Research shows that the NHS is ‘woefully unprepared’ to treat the 500,000 cancer survivors currently living in the UK.
The number of cancer survivors is rapidly growing, but they often experience long-term debilitating health conditions caused by their cancer, according to a new report released by Macmillan Cancer Support today.
Women who have had breast cancer are almost twice as likely to get heart failure compared to those who have not had it, and men who have had prostate cancer are two and a half times more likely to develop osteoporosis.
More than one in three (39%) men diagnosed with prostate cancer up to five years previously reported urinary leakage.
While one in eight (13%) people who had colorectal cancer surgery at least two years previously needed to wear a pad in case of bowel incontinence all or most of the time during the day.
The report also reveals that at least 200,000 cancer survivors are estimated to be left with pain, often with nerve changes after surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy. In particular around one in five diagnosed with breast, colorectal or prostate cancer report moderate or extreme pain or discomfort up to five years after initial cancer diagnosis
Ciarán Devane, Macmillan chief executive said: “For far too long the NHS has underestimated the severity of this issue and is woefully unprepared to help cancer survivors now and in the future.
“We are urging them to ensure that all cancer patients receive a ‘cancer recovery package’ at the end of their treatment offering ongoing support. No-one should be left to face the long-term consequences of cancer alone.”
With the report Macmillan has released a ‘recovery package’ which aims to improve care for people with cancer in the UK.
The charity suggests that a written care plan should be outline at the time of diagnosis, using a standardised assessment tool.
A treatments summary should be completed by the patient’s hospital and shared with the patient and their GP.
Also a practice nurse or GP should carry out a cancer care review three months after diagnosis, including discussion of potential long-term effects of the patient’s cancer and treatment.