Macmillan Cancer Support found 44% of the 477 cancer patients surveyed had cut back on food or heating.
Nearly two thirds (59%) had cut back on leisure activities like evenings out, family days out or holidays to pay for prescriptions.
Improvements in cancer drugs mean that patients are using them for years after cancer treatment has ended.
For example patients using tamoxifen are supposed to continue taking the drug for up to 10 years, placing a higher cost on the patient in terms of prescription charges.
Ciarán Devane, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: 'It's appalling that cancer patients in England are forced to cut back on basic necessities like food to pay for their urgently-needed medication.
‘People must never be forced to choose between food or medication. The Government must act now. Patients should be allowed to focus on getting better instead of worrying how they're going to find money for prescriptions.'
Prescription charges have been abolished in Wales and are being phased out in Scotland.