MORE than one of five people living with cancer in Dorset are suffering with loneliness.
According to Macmillan, this involves an estimated total of 6,500 people with the number of those diagnosed set to double by 2030.
This loneliness is brought on as a result of their cancer, rendering many housebound and unable to feed themselves properly, according to the charity.
New research conducted by Ipsos MORI reveals – for the first time ever – the detrimental impact of being lonely on the lives of people living with cancer.
It compares the experiences of cancer patients who say they feel lonely since their diagnosis, or more lonely than they did before, with those who aren’t – and the differences are stark.
People with cancer who are most likely to feel lonely include those with cancer that is advanced or has spread or relapsed, those living alone, and those who have made a change to their working life.
Ciarán Devane, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Loneliness is blighting the lives of hundreds of thousands of cancer patients in the UK.
“It’s hard enough for people being hit with the devastating news that they have cancer, without having to suffer the additional effects that being lonely brings. It’s heartbreaking to think of people struggling to eat or leave the house because they have been abandoned and left to deal with cancer alone.
“This is a growing problem which is only set to get worse as the number of people diagnosed with cancer doubles from two to four million in the next 20 years.
“Macmillan provides a range of services – including a Support Line and an online community – that are a lifeline to people affected by cancer.
The executive added: “But we simply can’t help everyone who needs us now, let alone those who will need us in the future so we need more public donations and support.
“We also urgently need the NHS, policy makers and local authorities to wake up to this looming loneliness epidemic and work with us to provide these vital services to ensure no one faces cancer alone.”
For cancer support every step of the way call Macmillan on 0808 8080000.
To make a donation or find out about volunteering opportunities, visit macmillan.org.uk
MACMILLAN says lonely cancer patients are:
- Three times more likely to drink more alcohol than they usually do.
- Almost five times more likely to have not left the house for days.
- Almost three times more likely to have problems sleeping.
- For many, their diet also suffersas they are five times more likely to skip meals.
- They are almost eight times more likely to eat a poor diet. While the reasons for not eating properly include lack of appetite, having no food in the house and being too weak to cook, 13 per cent of lonely cancer patients who have skipped meals say it is because they cannot afford to buy enough food.