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Concern over care for cancer survivors

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New research has revealed that around 2m people have survived cancer in the UK – prompting concerns about a lack of support for them from the NHS.

A report by Macmillan Cancer Support has revealed the number of people surviving cancer has almost doubled from the previous estimate of 1.2m.

This number is expected to increase over the next decade as the numbers of cases continue to rise and the numbers of deaths fall.

Macmillan is concerned that health services are only recognising the side effects and not the long-term effects of cancer.

It said care should include emotional, financial and practical support for each survivor living with cancer.

It is working with the Government on the National Cancer Survivorship Initiative to look at the issues facing cancer survivors, to ensure that care and support continues when medical treatment finishes.

A 'cancer survivor' is defined in the Cancer Reform Strategy as 'someone who has completed initial treatment and has no apparent evidence of active disease, or is living with progressive disease and may be receiving treatment but is not in the terminal phase of illness, or someone who has had cancer in the past.'

Ciaran Devane, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support said:

‘The number of cancer survivors is growing every year and failure by Primary Care Trusts to put in place proper resources to care for these people is a ticking time bomb. It is about time the NHS acknowledged that cancer is no longer necessarily a death sentence and recognised its long term impact on people's lives.’

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