The needs of cancer survivors ignored

I came across the following UK survey which supports what I have been saying about the post treatment period of  cancer and echoes the experience of cancer survivors in Ireland too.

People living with and beyond cancer often have difficulty getting their lives back when hospital treatment ends. They may experience emotional problems, side effects such as severe fatigue or lymphoedema, or find it hard to get back to work, pay the bills or start a family.

Four out of five nurses (82 per cent) say the needs of people living with or after cancer in the UK are not being met by the NHS, according to a new survey by Macmillan Cancer Support and the Nursing Times.

Nurses report that following initial treatment, 92 per cent of patients experience physical problems and 96 per cent experience emotional problems but they say these needs are not properly addressed.

A lack of services available to help people adjust to the consequences of cancer and its treatment, insufficient advice about returning to work and how to cope financially make it difficult for patients to get their lives back on track after treatment, according to the nurses.

Only two out of three (63 per cent) of the nurses who received training to help care for people with a cancer diagnosis said it had given them adequate understanding and knowledge of the needs of cancer survivors.

Fran, 57, from London was diagnosed with cancer of the retina in 2006. She says: “Once my treatment was over, I was abandoned. There was no system to support me, no one asked me how I would cope emotionally, and when I started suffering side effects, I felt like I was making a fuss about nothing. Even at work, I was made to feel like a nuisance and took early retirement. I’m still lacking in energy and I experience flashing lights so do I still have cancer? Has it been cured? Is it going to return? I have nobody to answer my questions. The absolute silence of support is deafening.”

A 15-page supplement addressing the long-term needs of cancer survivors will be included in theNursing Times on 31 March 2009. The supplement includes information on the long-term physical and emotional effects of cancer treatment, advice on how nurses can help their patients return to a normal life and tips on caring for carers.

Source: Medical News Today