Following yesterday’s release of the Office of National Statistics ‘Geographic patterns of cancer survival in England: Adults diagnosed 2004 to 2011 and followed up to 2016’, Christine Husbands, MD, RedArc commented:

“It’s great to read that despite pockets of disparities, overall cancer survival rates are continuing to increase. Advances in early detection, surgical methods and treatments all contribute to this pleasing result.

“In the UK, the NHS has excellent cancer services that are usually mobilised very quickly for anyone with a potential or actual cancer diagnosis.

“However, the area that is less well addressed is the emotional impact of cancer both on the individual and their families. At RedArc we often find that people are well supported during their treatment from the NHS and excellent charities such as MacMillan, Marie Curie and many others.

“But surprisingly, when the treatment stops, this is the time when people often find it difficult to cope, they have been given the ‘all clear’ and expect to feel elated but most do not, in fact they can easily become depressed at this time.

“The frequent appointments, and goals to aim for all fall away and the true impact of having experienced cancer often sets in. Families and employers usually expect the individual to be back to normal and overjoyed at the news, but for the individual things are often very different. A new normal has to be rediscovered and sometimes this is a frightening place to be.

“In our experience, this is the time, when support is more important than ever to help the individual with many things such as coming to terms with what has happened, adjusting to a changed appearance or impairment, building up their self-confidence which is so often very low at this time, and learning to manage consequences such as fatigue and the side-effects of long-term drugs such as tamoxifen.

“Whilst this report is solely focused on surviving cancer itself, insurers, benefits consultants, employers and advisers need to challenge the notion that the cancer journey ends at the all clear, because the reality is far from it.”