Almost 14,000 Scots living with chronic cancer not receiving necessary support

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Around 14,000 people are living with “chronic” cancer in Scotland but do not always get the support they need, research suggests.

A study for Macmillan Cancer Support found tens of thousands of people across the UK are living with cancer that is known as treatable but not curable, including about 14,000 in Scotland.

Diagnoses that would once have meant people were unlikely to survive long can now be treated, giving people years of extra time with their families.

Diagnoses that would once have meant people were unlikely to survive long can now be treated, giving people years of extra time with their families.

The charity said these patients were likely to need more intensive support than other cancer sufferers to help them deal with significantly higher levels of anxiety, fear, pain, sleep problems and fatigue.

But it said 77 per cent of those with so-called chronic cancer in the UK were not getting all the physical or emotional support they need.

Macmillan strategic partnership manager Lorraine Sloan said: “The meaning of cancer has changed dramatically over the past decades.

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"Diagnoses that would once have meant people were unlikely to survive long can now be treated, giving people years of extra time with their families.

“However, it’s not enough to simply help people survive longer. We need to help them live. That means ensuring their complex needs are met by highly skilled nurses and other staff. We know those on the frontline are working extremely hard, but we also hear that they’re under pressure and sometimes just spread too thin to give people the kind of care they need.

“For those with incurable cancer, this can cause unnecessary distress and even time lost to hospital admissions.The Scottish Government has committed to publishing a workforce plan to tackle the issues in the system.

“We hope to see it soon, alongside a fully costed implementation plan that makes clear how the cancer care system will meet the current challenges, as well as those we know are coming.”

Fear of unknown

Former nursery nurse Maureen Browne, from Penicuik in Midlothian, said the “fear of the unknown” makes it difficult when dealing with such a diagnosis.

The 62-year-old was diagnosed with cancer of the lining of the womb in February 2014 by chance after an injury at work led to a scan of her back, which found a mass on her pelvis.

Macmillan helped her claim benefits and sort out her finances as she had to give up work following her diagnosis.

She said: “I still find the isolation and loneliness very hard because I can no longer work. I have always been a very sociable person and my job working with autistic children was a huge part of my life, which I miss greatly. My consultant recently advised me he didn’t want to see me for a year, which although it sounds like a positive thing is actually very daunting.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “An £18 million partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support was launched in August to make Scotland the first country in the UK to offer dedicated emotional, practical and financial advice to everyone diagnosed with cancer.”