Psychosocial support and cancer

Guidance and resources for systems, psycho-oncology services and other providers of psychosocial support to deliver integrated, personalised care for people affected by cancer.

The Transforming Cancer Services Team (TCST), funded by and in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, has produced a suite of resources to help system leaders and commissioners examine and develop their current psychosocial support services for adults affected by cancer, as well as their families and carers. Partnership working between commissioners, service providers across the pathway, the third sector and service users is needed to ensure the delivery of the best possible care for Londoners.

Psychosocial support for people affected by cancer – the case for change

The focus of the NHS Long Term Plan on personalised care, the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey and the new National Cancer Quality of Life Survey, form important drivers to improve psychosocial care across London. The evidence for an integrated approach to supporting cancer patients with psychosocial support is clear:

  • In the year following diagnosis, around 10% of cancer patients will experience symptoms of anxiety and depression severe enough to warrant intervention by specialist psychological/psychiatric services.
  • Among those who experience recurrence of disease, the prevalence of anxiety and depression rises to 50%. Such difficulties can also be seen in 10-15% of patients with advanced disease.
  • 58% of people diagnosed feel their emotional needs are not looked after as much as their physical needs
  • Cancer patients have a 55% higher risk of suicide than those without cancer
  • Even 10 years after treatment, 54% of cancer survivors still suffer from at least one significant psychological issue
  • 67% of carers experience anxiety and 42% experience depression. Of these, over three quarters do not receive any support
  • The experience of cancer and its longer term physical and psychological consequences can also have a significant economic costs to individuals, families, communities and society.

Guidance and resources include:
The resources cover the time from diagnosis, through acute treatment, living with and beyond cancer and end of life care. They were developed through extensive stakeholder engagement and co-designed with service users. Psychosocial support services are an integral part of personalised care, as set out in the NHS Long Term Plan.

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Conferences and awards

TCST’s psychosocial guidance has been shared widely across the UK. The team has presented at conferences and was a winner of the Macmillan Professionals Excellence in Integration Award in 2019. These are shown below:

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