Cancer patients feel under pressure to get back to normal after treatment


The reality of how cancer patients feel once their treatment has finished is revealed in a new study released by Bupa. While half of those surveyed (50%)[1] felt relieved after treatment, nearly as many were left fearful that the cancer would return (45%) and over a quarter (27%) said they felt very vulnerable both mentally and physically.

Around one in three (30%) felt they were put under pressure to ‘bounce back’ to normal more quickly than they would have liked after treatment, with a third (33%) left confused about whether the symptoms and feelings they had were ‘normal’ or not. More people admitted they felt emotionally drained (28%) than felt delighted (17%) once their treatment had finished.

This research comes as Bupa launches the first ebook dedicated to those living with and beyond cancer, and their family and friends. ‘Living With and Beyond Cancer’ is a free guide which offers support, information and guidance through an inspiring collection of personal stories from cancer patients and experts from Bupa’s specialist Oncology Support Team.

Professor Justin Stebbing, Professor of Cancer Medicine and Oncology at Imperial College London said:

“This research shows that many cancer patients struggle with life after treatment. We know that they often have to deal with lower self-esteem as a result of surgery and the after-effects of chemotherapy, along with other hurdles such as getting back to work or returning to an active social life.

“Contrary to many people’s expectations, the challenge of cancer does not automatically end when treatment finishes and people can be taken by surprise by some of the feelings and side effects they experience. It’s important for people to realise that those who have gone through cancer treatment still require significant support, time and understanding from healthcare professionals, family, friends and work colleagues as they continue with their lives.”

There are currently 1.8 million people who have survived cancer living in the UK and that number is set to double in the next 17 years.[2]

Gemma Levine, breast cancer survivor and contributor to ‘Living With and Beyond Cancer’ said:

“This new book is a positive and welcome support for people following cancer treatment. I had many questions and concerns once I had finished chemotherapy and this guide would have been really valuable to me. I think it will reassure people in a similar situation that they are not alone and help them to re-negotiate what will become the ‘new normal’ for them.”

The research also revealed that of the cancer patients who had wanted more support following their treatment, two fifths (41%) said that more information about what to expect after treatment would have helped them.

The Bupa ‘Living With and Beyond Cancer’ guide is available to download from as a PDF, app for tablet or an ebook.

[1] YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 224 GB Adults who have completed treatment for cancer. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14 – 18 November 2013.  The survey was carried out online.

[2] Macmillan Cancer Support

As published on