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Too many in the region face cancer alone, Macmillan survey reveals
MORE than one in five of newly diagnosed cancer patients in the North-East lack support from family and friends during their treatment and recovery, according to new research.
The study, published by Macmillan Cancer Support, shows six per cent of people will receive no help whatsoever, facing cancer completely alone.
The Facing the Fight Alone report - which examines the number, profile and experiences of isolated people living with cancer across the UK, found the effects of isolation on those living with cancer are far-reaching.
More than half (53 per cent) of isolated patients skipped meals or did not eat properly due to a lack of home support.
More than one in four (27 per cent) were not able to wash themselves properly, while three in five (60 per cent) were unable to do household work.
Family and friends living too far away, having other commitments or patients simply having no-one to turn to were the most common reasons for a lack of support.
Other than a visit from a health professional, one in eight (12 per cent) revealed they hadn't had a single visit from friends or family in over six months.
And half of the 150 health professionals also surveyed claimed they have had patients who skipped treatment altogether because they have no one to support them.
Ciaran Devane, the charity's chief executive, 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.''
The charity said that healthcare professionals should ask patients whether they have support during their treatment and recovery. Health workers should also ensure isolated patients make full use of alternative support services, a spokeswoman said.
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