Wednesday 28 Apr 2021
Our research reveals the long-term impact of cancer on mental health and how 3 in 5 people find the mental health challenge of cancer harder to cope with than the physical.
A survey of 1,000 UK adults who have had or currently have cancer was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Maggie's in April.
The research published today revealed 3 in 5 (58%*) people who have or have had cancer feel that the mental challenge of cancer is harder to cope with than the physical treatment and side effects.
Despite the strain placed on mental health as a result of a cancer diagnosis and treatment, 52% of people with cancer felt there was support for the physical impact of cancer but not the emotional effects of cancer.
Furthermore, 47% of people with cancer didn't know where to go for mental health support.
The survey of 1,000 people who have or have had cancer, also revealed the shocking long-term impact of cancer on mental health**.
While practical support during diagnosis and treatment for cancer is widely available, the effect on their mental health is cited as a long term challenge, faced on a daily basis.
More than two thirds (69%) of people with cancer stated that low mood, sleeplessness and feelings of overwhelm, distress, loneliness and isolation were some of the hardest things to deal with throughout their diagnosis and treatment.
These feelings were even stronger post-treatment with 82% of people with cancer stating that the fear of cancer returning, not feeling like your ‘old self’, feelings of depression or low mood, pressure to ‘get back to normal’ and feelings of loneliness and isolation were some of the hardest things to deal with post their cancer treatment.
56% of those surveyed stated that the single hardest thing to deal with post-treatment was the fear of cancer returning.
Unsurprisingly the pandemic has also had a detrimental effect, with almost half (49%) of people with cancer stating that the combination of coronavirus, shielding, lockdown and their cancer diagnoses had a negative impact on their mental health.
We need to wake up to the fact that cancer is a mental challenge as well as a physical one and that people are not getting the support they need.
This has always been the case and is what we see and hear in our centres every day; that from the point of diagnosis onwards people can feel stress, fear, anxiety, low mood and distress - and often these feelings continue long after treatment has stopped.
But we have 25 years of expertise in helping people with the mental and emotional, as well as the physical challenges of cancer. Our expert staff in our centres, in particular our cancer support and information specialists and our psychologists, can help people manage their emotions in a way that helps them to live well with cancer.
We need to take these figures seriously and make sure as many people as possible get the support they need, now when they need it more than ever.
Dame Laura Lee DBE, Maggie's Chief Executive
Maggie’s is here for everyone with cancer, providing practical and emotional support, from the point of diagnosis onwards.
Professional staff can help you to manage your feelings when you have cancer, before, during and after treatment.
Support includes practical ways of dealing with a diagnosis, emotions and treatment, concerns around self-image, emotions after treatment, advanced cancer, dying and emotions and fear of cancer returning.
Every Maggie’s has a cancer support specialist who can help people when they are scared, worried or feeling down.
To meet more in-depth emotional needs each Maggie’s also offers appointments with psychologists, either one to one in private or in a group with family members.
Part of Maggie’s psychological support also involves bringing people together, either informally round the kitchen table, in courses and workshops, or psychologist facilitated support groups.
* Survey of 1,000 UK adults who have had or currently have cancer. Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Maggie's from 08.04.2021-21.04.2021
** Survey of 1,000 UK adults who have had or currently have cancer. Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Maggie's from 08.04.2021-21.04.2021
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