Chris West
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Cancer patients living longer - new report

Chris West
Posted by
01 Aug 2016

A new report shows how cancer patients are living longer.

A report published this morning by Macmillan shows that more people are living longer after being diagnosed with cancer.  However, there is also increasing emotional trauma experienced by many people living with and beyond cancer. 

This is something that is especially true in blood cancer.  Many patients have told us that due to the differences in blood cancers and the way in which they’re treated, many standard cancer care packages aren’t available to blood cancer patients, or aren’t able to fully meet their needs. 

There are many reasons for this.  The standard Cancer Recovery Package is available to all cancer patients once treatment has ended.  However, patients with chronic blood cancers may never end their treatment, and live with their blood cancer for many years.  Other patients, such as those with CLL, will be placed on Watch and Wait for months if not years – the Cancer Recovery Package isn’t set up in way that allows patients who have yet to start treatment to benefit from it.

Patients have told us that they have had difficulty in accessing other cancer support services.  Sometimes this can be something as simple as the fact that blood cancer patients are treated in haematology wards not oncology wards, so do not have access to the immediate cancer support and information provided in hospital.  In other cases, blood cancer patients have said that standard support services are too focused on solid tumour cancers and therefore aren’t appropriate for them.

With these difficulties, it’s not surprising that patients have told us that they feel isolated throughout their patient journey from diagnosis through to when care has ended – one patient compared the end of treatment to “falling off a conveyor belt”.

Macmillan’s report also talks about how patients are living for longer with side effects or knock on conditions caused by their treatment.  Again, this is something that we know is an issue in blood cancer.  Whilst there have been successes in many areas of blood cancer research that have increased survival rates, we still need to work on making treatments less toxic, as well as improving survival rates for remaining blood cancers.

There is much to be done to improve the lives of those affected by blood cancer.  We are working on a number of projects that will seek to address the many issues faced by patients living with and beyond blood cancer – improving the Cancer Recovery Package so it better services the needs of blood cancer patients, providing appropriate support for those on Watch and Wait, making information and support more relevant and accessible for patients and their families, and looking at how we can make treatments less toxic.

We welcome Macmillan’s report as it shines a light on many of the issues patients have told us about – and we are working hard to make sure that we’re doing all we can to improve the lives of everyone affected by blood cancer.

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