There are 1.8 million people in the UK who are living with cancer and at least one other long-term health condition and these people are in greater need of practical, personal and emotional care, a major research carried out by Monitor Deloitte and commissioned by Macmillan Cancer Support has found.
The research found that alongside cancer the other other long-term health conditions that people suffer from include hypertension, obesity, or chronic kidney disease.
The research shows that 70 per cent of people with cancer are also living with one of the above long term condition, and that people with cancer are 31 per cent more likely than people without the disease to be living with a long term condition, even after taking age into account.
The research also found that around 700,000 people are living with cancer and three or more long term conditions.
Macmillan has previously learned that living with a long term condition is likely to reduce a person with cancer’s chance of survival as well as increasing their need for support. Today it warns of an urgent need for health and social services to provide a holistic person-centred approach for people with cancer. It estimates that the overall number of people with cancer and another long term condition could swell by one million over the next 15 years, placing a major strain on the NHS and local authorities.
The research comes a month after the charity warned that a lack of social care support was leaving hundreds of thousands of people with cancer housebound, and unable to wash or dress themselves.
“Our research paints a grim picture where huge numbers of people living with cancer are also contending with at least one other long term condition”, said Juliet Bouverie, Director of Services & Influencing at Macmillan Cancer Support. “This means people have individual and complex needs and our health and social care system urgently needs to reflect this. We need to care for the whole person, not just treat single diseases and their individual symptoms separately.”
Bouverie added that the face of cancer is changing and that it is no longer just a case of being cured or dying from the disease, but instead people are living with cancer and most of them are managing this alongside other conditions which may seriously affect their lives.
“A holistic needs assessment which identifies those living with complex needs has to be available to all people with cancer. A comprehensive recovery package will then support them to manage their health as they look to get their lives back to a new sense of normality after a cancer diagnosis”, she added.
The cancer charity is calling on the next government to prioritise cancer care and is working with an independent Cancer Taskforce to ensure that the needs of people living with and dying from cancer – beyond diagnosis and treatment – are addressed in an updated cancer strategy for England.