CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, has today launched a report which reveals the shocking ‘Hidden Costs’ of a cancer diagnosis and its impact on young people’s mental health.
Among the findings of the Hidden Costs report are that 70% of young people have experienced depression during their cancer treatment and 42% have experienced panic attacks.
The report has been launched during the charity’s #NoFilter4Cancer month, a campaign focussed on the mental and physical impact of cancer for young people. Young people with cancer were questioned on the mental health impact that they felt their treatment and diagnosis had on them.
The report also shows:
- 79% of young people felt cancer had a serious impact on their emotional wellbeing
- 90% of young people experienced anxiety during their cancer treatment
- 83% of young people experienced loneliness during their cancer treatment
Testicular cancer at 20
One of the young people affected by these issues is Harry Lehane, 25, from Bognor Regis.
Harry said: “I thought my toughest time came when I was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 20. I went through two bouts of surgery as well as intense chemotherapy.
“However, it was only a couple of weeks after I received the all-clear that I found myself falling into depression. That was the beginning of a battle that was always on top of me, something I just couldn’t shake off - no matter how much I tried to ignore it."
Following the revealing stats, CLIC Sargent is now making three recommendations for change:
- Access to evidence-based mental health interventions for young cancer patients should be part of the treatment pathway if needed, and provided consistently across the UK.
- All UK hospitals should provide free Wi-Fi access to support young cancer patients to maintain the connections that are important to them.
- Further research is needed on how young cancer patients are accessing services locally and the emotional and mental health impact of a cancer diagnosis on the wider family, particularly siblings.
"A devastating impact"
Kate Lee, Chief Executive at CLIC Sargent, said: “It’s no surprise that a cancer diagnosis can have a devastating impact on a young person but at CLIC Sargent, we know the impact of cancer is far wider than just physical.
“Young people told us in no uncertain terms that cancer has had a devastating impact not only on their physical health, but also on their mental health.
It is heartening to hear that many have been supported, but worrying that others have not. We would like to see greater recognition of the impact of cancer on the mental health of those aged 25 and under, and a drive for improved and consistent support.”
Significant emotional impact
Emma Rigby, Chief Executive of the Association of Young People’s Health, said: "A diagnosis of cancer for a young person is likely to have a significant emotional impact on them and their families.
"It is therefore alarming that consideration and discussion of young people’s mental health needs is not systematically a part of their care pathway from diagnosis onwards."
Former Minister for Care and Support, Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP, said: “A staggering 41% of young people with a cancer diagnosis did not receive mental health support during treatment, even though 79% felt that cancer had a serious impact on their emotional wellbeing according to the findings of this report. Clearly, much more needs to be done to improve support for the mental health impact of this terrible disease.”
Read the Hidden Costs report
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