Two fifths of cancer patients fear pandemic will disrupt their treatment

India McTaggart
Macmillan estimates that around a quarter of a million people with cancer in the UK will be having to shield in the latest wave of the virus - Andrew Fox/Andrew Fox
Macmillan estimates that around a quarter of a million people with cancer in the UK will be having to shield in the latest wave of the virus - Andrew Fox/Andrew Fox

Two fifths of cancer patients fear the pandemic will make their treatment less successful and potentially shorten their lives, a charity has revealed.

Macmillan Cancer Support said that people being treated for cancer are living through the "worst possible Groundhog Day" as they released new research about how the pandemic is affecting treatments.

It revealed that more than 100,000 patients receiving treatment for cancer in the run-up to the current lockdown are worried that disruption caused by the coronavirus could be reducing the likelihood of their treatment being successful or, at worst, risk shortening their lives.

This figure compares to around a quarter (28 percent) who reported feeling the same worries back in June.

The research also shows that almost one in five people with cancer have been left feeling depressed because of coronavirus and a quarter feel they won’t be able to return to normal activities until no new cases are being reported.

The new figures reveal the growing toll of the ongoing pandemic on people with cancer, with many facing rising anxiety, disruption to care, and the disconcerting experience of going through diagnosis and treatment alone.

Macmillan estimates that around a quarter of a million people with cancer in the UK will be having to shield in the latest wave of the virus, with some having done so since the pandemic began.

The charity also suggests tens of thousands of people in the UK are missing a cancer diagnosis they would otherwise have received were it not for Covid-19.

Mother-of-two Ellen Wallace, from Norfolk, was diagnosed with colon cancer last October, in the middle of the pandemic.

Mrs Wallace, 44, said she feels "cut adrift and fearful" about doing six months of chemo instead of the liver operation she would have had if liver surgery had not been suspended in her area due to Covid.

"Deep inside I’m scared and really worried that six months of chemo instead of the liver op will disrupt my life even further," she said.

Macmillan’s Chief Executive Lynda Thomas called this "an acutely challenging time for people with cancer" and urged all those struggling to call Macmillan’s daily 8am-8pm Support Line on 0808 808 00 00.