World Cancer Day: We've come a long way, but post cancer treatment needs to change dramatically

For some cancers people are now living on average nearly six times longer than four decades ago - but the effects of cancer do not finish when treatment does

Share

Cancer is changing.

For some cancers people are now living on average nearly six times longer after their diagnosis than 40 years ago. This improvement is testament to the improvements in surgery, diagnosis, radiotherapy, and new drugs. There have been particularly dramatic improvements in survival time for breast cancer, colon cancer and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – with many years added to median survival times.

However, more people are being diagnosed with cancer than ever before, and as treatment improves, more people are living longer with cancer than ever before. The number of people living with cancer in the UK is increasing by 3% every year. We know that there are currently two million people in the UK living with a cancer diagnosis, and if the current rate continues, the number will have doubled to four million people by 2030. Evidence shows that many of these cancer survivors have unmet needs, particularly at the end of treatment, whilst others are struggling with consequences of treatment, that could be either avoided or managed.

For many, cancer is now a long term condition, and it is important to realise that it is no longer just about people dying quickly of cancer or being cured. We also know that the effects of cancer and its treatment do not finish when treatment does. The decisions taken about treatment options may impact upon quality of life long after treatment has finished: patients need support in making the decisions that best reflect their individual priorities.

For many patients, remission of the disease is just the first step in a long and emotionally draining process of recovery. The current system does not meet the needs of all cancer survivors.

The National Cancer Survivorship Initiative (NCSI), a partnership between Macmillan Cancer Support and the Department of Health was launched in 2008 to help improve the lives of people living with and beyond cancer. The NCSI runs a range of programmes that take a more holistic approach to the needs of cancer survivors, for example encouraging physical activity, or helping with issues including work and finance.

Macmillan believes that support for people living with or beyond cancer should not finish after treatment but continue into a phase of supported aftercare. We know that a combination of assessment and care planning, a Treatment Summary from the hospital team to the primary care team, and a patient education and support event (Health and well being Clinic) has a big impact on improving outcomes for people after cancer treatment. We call this the ‘Recovery Package’ and want this to be adopted across the NHS as part of every cancer patient’s care. Underpinning this is the need to promote a cultural shift in professionals towards shared decision making and supporting patient self-management.

As we continue to take these vital steps in cancer treatment, the NHS post cancer treatment services will need to dramatically change in order to keep up with the growing numbers of people living with cancer across the UK. On World Cancer Day we need to highlight these problems and look to building a better future for cancer patients.

To read more about Macmillan’s survivorship work please visit: www.macmillan.org.uk/survivorship  or www.ncsi.org.uk

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Support Engineer

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Support Engi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband hasn’t ‘suddenly’ become an able leader. He always was

Steve Richards
 

Costa Rica’s wildlife makes me mourn our paradise lost

Michael McCarthy
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence