Coronavirus: Half a million people with cancer 'afraid to leave the house'

  • Video report by ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi

Half a million people living with cancer in the UK are afraid to the leave the house due to the threat of coronavirus, a survey has shown.

Macmillan Cancer Support is warning of the devastating impact Covid-19 is having on the physical and mental health of people facing both cancer and the threat of the virus at the same time.

Research from the charity suggests that 19 per cent of cancer patients in the UK - around 570,000 people - have barely left the house during the pandemic because they are scared to do so.

It found 9 per cent of respondents - around 270,000 people - have experienced panic or anxiety attacks or even suicidal thoughts as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

The NHS has fast-tracked the rollout of a new type of radiotherapy for cancer patients amid the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: PA

Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, says "patients now feel lost in lockdown".

She added: "They are having to contend with the two potentially deadly Cs all at once, including uncertainty around treatment, shielding restrictions and isolation from loved ones, as well as concerns about their increased risk of contracting the virus.

"We want to make sure cancer doesn't become the forgotten 'C' during this pandemic."

Ms Thomas urged the public to donate to Macmillan.

What else did the survey show?

The study - involving 2,202 adults with a previous cancer diagnosis - revealed one in five of those who have not left the house at all since the start of lockdown (around 90,000 people in the UK) say they will not feel safe enough to do so until a vaccine or effective treatment is widely available.

This was irrespective of changes to recent government shielding guidance.

The findings suggest that one in seven has experienced a decline in their physical health during lockdown. This included sleep problems (10 per cent), fatigue or extreme tiredness (9 per cent), or pain (5 per cent).

Almost half of people with cancer in the UK (49 per cent) have not taken any outdoor exercise at all, the results suggested.