Half a million people with cancer in the UK are ‘afraid to leave the house’ as a cancer charity warns of the ‘devastating impact’ of coronavirus fears on patients’ physical and mental health.
Macmillan Cancer Support is warning of the devastating impact coronavirus is having on the physical and mental health of people with cancer as they face the two ‘deadly Cs’ all at once and, is urging those struggling with lockdown to contact Macmillan’s support line service.
New research by the charity reveals for the first time the scale of fear and anxiety hundreds of thousands of people are facing as they deal with both the threat of cancer and Covid-19, with a shocking 270,0000 (9%) people with cancer having experienced panic or anxiety attacks or even suicidal thoughts because of the virus*. Macmillan is concerned that the recent government announcement about how shielding will start to be phased out could add to people’s worries if they feel information is unclear or support is being taken away.
The results show a staggering half a million (570,000) people in the UK with cancer (19%) haven’t left the house at all or have done so less than once a week because they’re scared of catching the virus, or generally scared to leave the house during lockdown. One in five (20%) of those who have not left the house at all since the start of lockdown — around 90,000 people in the UK — say they won’t feel safe enough to do so until a vaccine or effective treatment is widely available, irrespective of changes to recent government shielding guidance.
The virus and associated lockdown has left as many as one in four (840,000) people with cancer (28%) feeling stressed, anxious or depressed and one in eight people with cancer (13%) — around 390,000 people in the UK — having seen their mental health worsen due to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, one in seven (14%) have experienced a decline in their physical health during lockdown, including sleep problems (10%), fatigue or extreme tiredness (9%), or pain (5%). Almost half of people with cancer in the UK (49%) have not taken any outdoor exercise at all.
The latest research also suggests the number of people with cancer in the UK who have chosen to take steps to ‘shield’ at home is higher than those deemed ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’ to coronavirus. More than 700,000 people (24% of those with cancer) say they had not left the house other than for essential medical appointments during the first two stages of lockdown — almost three times as many as official estimates — and as of 15th June more than 400,0000 (15%) had still not left the house despite the recent change to government guidance.
You can read the Macmillan Cancer Support press release, including personal case studies here. You can also view a link to the research statistics quoted in this article.