Cancer patients urged not to suffer in silence amidst fears of 'loneliness epidemic'

Macmillan Cancer Support bus and team. Picture: Glyn Collins

Macmillan Cancer Support has urged people to get in touch for support as they revealed figures that more than 3,000 people across east London feel they have no one to talk to about their worries. - Credit: Glyn Collins

Cancer patients across east London are being urged to seek help as a charity warns of a "loneliness epidemic". 

New research by Macmillan Cancer Support revealed more than 25,000 people with cancer in London - 3,350 across east London - feel they have no one to talk to about their worries because of the pandemic.

Around 34,000 people with cancer in London (16pc) say they've been spending too much time alone, while more than 67,000 (32pc) are stressed, anxious or depressed because of coronavirus.

Based on the survey results, an estimated 1,000 people in Havering are suffering in silence, with 800 in Redbridge, 600 in Newham, 500 in Barking and Dagenham and about 450 in Tower Hamlets saying the same thing.

Macmillan is worried about the additional emotional burden facing people with cancer, many of whom have been isolating since last March and some receiving diagnoses and bad news without friends or family around them.

At a time of extreme pressure on the NHS, Macmillan enlisted stars including actor Daisy Edgar-Jones and Joanna Lumley in a video to tell people to contact the charity for help.

Macmillan enlisted stars including Joanna Lumley to take part in a video encouraging people to seek support. 

Macmillan enlisted stars including Joanna Lumley to take part in a video encouraging people to seek support. - Credit: PA

As well as helping ease some of the isolation and anxiety people with cancer are facing, Macmillan hopes its free support line, staffed by specially trained nurses and advisers, can play a key role in helping to alleviate some of the pressure on the NHS.

Emma Tingley, head of partnerships for London and the south east, said: "We've been getting an increasing number of calls from people with cancer who are struggling with isolation and experiencing very high anxiety levels who don't have their usual support of family and friends around them.

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"We're worried cancer patients are facing a loneliness epidemic.

“At a time when healthcare staff are facing unprecedented challenges, we want people with cancer in London to know our cancer nurses, benefits advisers and other experts are just a phone call away. Peer support is also available 24 hours a day on our online community."

Patients and their loved ones can contact Macmillan’s phoneline seven days a week from 8am-8pm at 0808 808 00 00.

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