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    The advice cancer patients are asking for

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    New data from cancer treatment and clinical support provider Harley Street Concierge shows the range of concerns and worries Unum CI Policy Holders have after being diagnosed with cancer.

    New data from cancer treatment

    Harley Street Concierge (HSC) is there to provide support for people who have been diagnosed with cancer. A cancer diagnosis is overwhelming and HSC work proactively to support the individual, making sure they receive the clinical, emotional, and practical support they require.

    As such, the people at HSC have expert insight into the worries and preoccupations of cancer patients pre, during and post-treatment.

    Data published by HSC in 2017 revealed the areas in which Unum CI policy holders most approach them for advice.

    The results are interesting reading for anyone looking to better understand the support that friends, relatives or colleagues going through cancer treatment might need.

    The results

    The top two areas in which HSC receives requests for support won’t come as any great surprise.

    HSC’s survey revealed 9% of all requests concern the side effects that a patient might expect to encounter while 8% are about general treatment for the disease.

    Other areas include advice on chemotherapy (7%), diet and nutrition (6%), surgery (5%) and radiotherapy (4%).

    Also near the top of the list is emotional support (7%) showing that it’s not always those closest to the cancer patient that are best placed to provide the necessary emotional backing.

    “It’s interesting to note that emotional support is the fourth most frequently requested topic,” says Tim Warren, Commercial Director at HSC.

    “Thankfully people are becoming increasingly comfortable discussing and managing their emotions. This is encouraging given that cancer can be incredibly difficult to deal with from a psychological perspective.”

    With this in mind, employers should be willing to step up and provide support if required.

    A cancer diagnosis is a complex moment for anyone – the presence of emotional support so high up the list of HSC requests shows all those around the person should be open and aware of how they can help.

    Can cancer education aid recovery?

    There is also evidence more support and education can actually help cancer recovery.

    A study of nearly 3,500 British cancer patients in work found that providing information about the disease, its treatment and its impact on work life and education nearly doubles their chances of a positive treatment outcome1.

    Dr Caroline Kamau said in the research published by BMJ Supportive and Pallative Care : “There are two main reasons why preparing patients seems to produce nearly twice better odds of successful cancer treatment. One is that patient education lowers uncertainty and the stress that comes with not knowing what to expect.

    “[…] The second reason is that preparation equips working cancer patients with knowledge about good coping strategies, including how to cope with the fatigue that comes with treatment through adjusting work load2.”

    Alongside these factors, the more people there are who are informed about the signs, consequences and treatment for cancer; it’s likely the more chance there is for early detection.

    And as the World Health Organization (WHO) states on their website: “Early detection of cancer greatly increases the chances for successful treatment. There are two major components of early detection of cancer: education to promote early diagnosis and screening3.”

    Working in partnership

    That sense of education being vital to recovery was also investigated in a separate study of 97 patients undergoing colorectal surgery for cancer. The study identified the importance of developing patients’ understanding of their condition in their recovery.

    The enhancement in recovery was attributed to knowledge and education – both of which promoted patients’ engagement in treatment. The study concludes that “[the extra education] was seen to increase patients’ confidence to work in partnership with healthcare professionals and so in supporting their proactive involvement to enhance their recovery4.”


    No one person needs the same advice and direction following a cancer diagnosis as someone else. Each person will need unique support and have a unique experience in their treatment period and beyond.

    Melanie Jones, Clinical Support Advisor at HSC, isn’t surprised at the range of responses to the survey. “[Patients’] concerns are becoming more complex,” she says.

    “They’re worried about the side effects and the emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis on themselves and their families. All that is driving the need for the bespoke psychological and symptomatic support that Harley Street Concierge is well placed to provide.”

    Some may want to ‘act alone’ as much as they can; some will reach out to close family members only; some will want to know as much as possible about every aspect of the disease; others will prefer to be led entirely by the expertise of others.

    There is no magic formula for how to support employees with cancer. As an employer, offering financial protection for employees is a great way to give employees and their families peace of mind and genuine, meaningful support.

    You can learn more about Unum’s employee benefits offering, including Critical Illness Insurance, here.


    1 BMJ. (2015). Preparing patients with cancer who work and treatment responsiveness

    2 Birkbeck. (2015). Cancer treatment success nearly doubles when equipping patients with info about their disease

    3 WHO. (2018). Early detection of cancer

    4 BMJ. (2016). Developing patient education to enhance recovery after colorectal surgery through action research: a qualitative study