ALMOST a quarter of people in Worcestershire living with cancer are suffering from loneliness as a result of the disease, new figures have revealed.
Research by Ipsos MORI has revealed 23 per cent of those in the county suffering with the disease – about 4,800 people – are housebound and unable to feed themselves properly as a result of their cancer.
The figures showed lonely cancer patients are three times more likely to drink more alcohol than they normally would and five times more likely to go days without leaving the house.
They are almost three times more likely to have trouble sleeping, are eight times more likely to eat a poor diet.
These people are also five times more likely to skip meals, with 13 per cent of these people say it is because they cannot afford to buy enough food.
Chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support Ciarán Devane said loneliness was “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,” he said.
“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.”
The people most at risk of loneliness 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.
He said the number of people diagnosed with cancer was set to double to four million within 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,” he said. “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.”
Macmillan Cancer Support offers help to people suffering with all forms of the disease, their families and medical professionals.
For more information on Macmillan call 0808 808 00 00 or visit macmillan.org.uk