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1 in 2 people with cancer also suffers from at least one mental health issue

16th May 2018

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May 2018), the Transforming Cancer Services Team for London – part of Healthy London Partnership[i] – in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, have published a new report with the aim of improving psychological support for people living with cancer across London.

In the year following a cancer diagnosis, around 1 in 10 patients will experience symptoms of anxiety and/or depression severe enough to warrant intervention by specialist psychological services[ii]. Even 10 years after treatment 54% of people affected by cancer still suffer from at least one emotional issue[iii].  Those with a cancer diagnosis can experience emotional and psychological difficulties, which will impact on how they access investigations, their treatment and even their recovery from cancer.

The focus we have had on early diagnosis of cancer and people surviving cancer, means people are living longer. Therefore, identifying people’s psychological and emotional needs, and providing high quality support, is essential from diagnosis, through treatment, living with and beyond cancer and end of life care.

The report includes detailed recommendations for best practice in psychological support services and identifies the key issues that need to be addressed in London going forward. It also comprises both a pathway for psychological support and a draft service specification for further consultation.

We are working with Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships to take forward the recommendations in the report, making sure they are taking a whole system approach to providing comprehensive psycho-social support for people living with cancer. For example we are recommending that all London’s acute hospitals where cancer is diagnosed and treated, have access to psycho-oncology teams (cancer specialists with expertise in psychological and mental health).

Another of the recommendations is the implementation of the Recovery Package[iv] (Holistic Needs Assessment including care plan, Health and Well-being events, Treatment Summaries and Cancer Care reviews), which plays a vital role in ensuring that people’s psychological needs are identified at different points along the cancer pathway.

Finally, this document will support commissioners in London to examine their current psychological support services for adults affected by cancer, their families and those significant to them.  It will also help them look at how they address the differences in patient experience of cancer for marginalised and disadvantaged groups in London.

Dr Philippa Hyman, Macmillan Mental Health Clinical Lead and Clinical Psychologist said:

“We have worked with commissioners, cancer service providers, third sector organisations and service users to develop these recommendations, and through continued partnership working going forward we will drive London to deliver the best possible care for everyone.              

We hope the recommendations made in this report will ensure access to psychological support for those affected by cancer, their carers and families is considered essential within cancer care.”

Dr Matthew Williams, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said:

“The role of psychological support in oncology is huge and we should put it on a par with the physical aspects of medicine. We wouldn’t give people chemotherapy without anti-sickness drugs, so why would we treat someone with a disease, which clearly has significant psychological impact, without offering psychological support.”

Ms Emma Tingley, Strategic Partnership Manager for London at Macmillan Cancer Support said:

“This new report gives valuable insight into the psychological implications of cancer. It’s really staggering that roughly 1 in 2 Londoners with cancer also suffers from mental health issues. Macmillan Cancer Support is committed to supporting the implementation of the Recovery Package that, along with the rest of the recommendations in the report, could help identify and deal with these issues when people need psychological support.”

Read the report ‘Psychological support for people affected by cancer’ (2018):

For more details on what this means for your area please contact or call 0113 825 1287 or 0113 825 2870.

– ENDS –

Notes to editors

The report was produced over a 12 month period and included widespread consultation with stakeholders across the sector including users, providers and commissioners. Mapping of current services was also undertaken. Evaluation of the mapping data combined with feedback helped to identify a range of key issues which build upon the ten recommendations made in the 2015 document psychological support for people living with cancer guidance document

About the Transforming Cancer Services Team for London and Healthy London Partnership

The Transforming Cancer Services Team was established in April 2014 to provide strategic leadership, clinical advice, oversight, cohesion and guidance for implementing the National Cancer Strategy for London. We aim to improve outcomes for patients through a pan-London clinically led, patient-centred collaborative approach.

The Transforming Cancer Services Team is part of Healthy London Partnership. Healthy London Partnership aims to make London the healthiest global city in the world by working with our partners for Londoners to improve health and care, so everyone can live healthier lives.

About Macmillan Cancer Support in Greater London

In 2015, there were nearly 33,000 cancer cases diagnosed in London1. There are at least 210,000 people living with cancer in London2, and the sad truth is, this number could increase to an estimated 342,000 by 20303.

One in two people in the UK are likely to get cancer in their lifetime4. Cancer can affect everything, including a person’s body, relationships and finances.

Macmillan Cancer Support provides practical, emotional and personal support to people affected by cancer every year. The charity is there to support people during treatment, help with work and money worries, and listen when people need to talk about their feelings.

In 2016, there were around 1060 Macmillan health and social care professional posts, often based at hospitals and in the community, in London5 to support people with cancer and their families through difficult times.  More than 7,630 people called the Macmillan Support Line for information and support.  Macmillan mobile information buses were out and about in supermarkets, town centres, faith centres and workplaces in London, visited by around 7,650 local people for support.  To help with money worries, more than £7 million in unclaimed benefits was unlocked for people in London by the Macmillan Support Line and 3,690 people received Macmillan Grants, totalling over £1.3 million.

Macmillan receives no government funding and relies on generous donations from the public. People up and down the country show their support for Macmillan – from hosting or attending a World’s Biggest Coffee Morning to running a marathon or giving up alcohol – so the charity can help more and more people affected by cancer every year.

Life with cancer is still your life and Macmillan is there to help you live it. If you want information or just to chat, call 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit To get involved or make a donation please call 0300 1000 200.


1 Registrations of newly diagnosed cases of cancer by region of residence. Cancer Registration Statistics, England, 2015. Source: Office for National Statistics, 2017.

2 PHE National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service, Macmillan Cancer Support and Transforming Cancer Services Team (TCST) for London, NHS. 2018. Cancer Prevalence in England – 21-year prevalence by demographic and geographic measures.

3 Cancer prevalence 2030 based on Madams J, Utley M, Møller H. Projections of cancer prevalence in the United Kingdom, 2010-2040 (scenario 1). Br J Cancer 2012; 107: 1195-1202.

4 Ahmad AS, Ormiston-Smith N, Sasieni PD. Trends in the lifetime risk of developing cancer in Great Britain: comparison of risk for those born from 1930 to 1960. British Journal of Cancer. 2015;112(5):943-947. doi:10.1038/bjc.2014.606.

5 All services data is for 2016.  Source: Macmillan Cancer Support.  Data is only included where a valid postcode was recorded.  Grants data is based on unaudited data and may be subject to change.  Numbers have been rounded and these figures should be considered as indicative.

[i] More information about Healthy London Partnership

[ii] National Institute for Clinical Excellence. Guidance for Cancer Services: Improving supportive and palliative care for adults with cancer (2004)

[iii] Macmillan Cancer Support. It‟s no life. Living with the long term effects of cancer. 2009

[iv] More information about the Recovery Package here

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