There are lots of organisations, support groups and helpful books to help you cope with symptoms and side effects caused by cancer and its treatment.
Cancer Research UK information and support
Cancer Research UK is the largest cancer research organisation in the world outside the USA. We fund research on all aspects of cancer from its causes to treatment and prevention.
We are committed to producing high quality information for people affected by cancer, health professionals and the general public. We also have a range of health awareness leaflets.
Nurse freephone helpline: 0808 800 4040, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Admin phone number: 020 7242 0200
Cancer Chat is our online forum where you can share experiences.
General support and information organisations
For general health advice and information.
NHS 111 gives information if you need fast medical help but it's not a 999 emergency.
Confidential telephone health advice and information service for people in Scotland.
NHS Helpline: 0800 22 44 88 (8am to 10pm – for details of pharmacies, GP practices and dentists in Scotland. Can also give information about illnesses, treatments and NHS services)
NHS 24 Helpline: 08454 24 24 24 (for when you are feeling ill and your doctor's surgery is closed)
Macmillan Cancer Support improves the lives of people affected by cancer. They provide practical, medical and financial support and push for better cancer care. They provide booklets on cancer and treatments and run a helpline providing cancer information and benefits advice.
Phone: 0808 808 0000 (Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm – information available in other languages)
Textphone: 0808 808 0121
Specific symptoms organisations
Breast Cancer Care provides breast cancer information and support across the UK. All services are free and include a helpline, website, publications and practical and emotional support. It runs sessions about lymphoedema around the country. Each session includes information about the prevention and management of lymphoedema. Looking at signs and symptoms, practical self-help approaches that may reduce the risk of lymphoedema, and how to manage lymphoedema if it occurs.
Helpline: 0808 800 6000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and Saturday, 10am to 2pm)
Telephone: 0345 092 0800 (general enquiries)
Organisations that can help with issues of sex and sexuality
Offers private and confidential counselling, and psychosexual therapy to help with relationship problems.
Telephone: 0300 100 1234
Information on sexual problems. They provide lists of local specialist practitioners, as well as factsheets on problems such as erectile dysfunction (impotence).
Telephone 020 7486 7262 (Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9am to 5pm)
This organisation provides a telephone helpline staffed by nurses. They can give you information and advice about all aspects of prostate cancer, including erection problems.
Telephone: 0800 074 8383 (Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm and Wednesday 7pm to 9pm)
Books about cancer
J F Kelvin and L B Tyson
Jones and Bartlett Publishing, 2010
An American book which gives both doctor’s and patient’s views on coping with the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of treatment. It has information about treatment for pain, nausea, tiredness, and other symptoms.
SL Rose and RT Hara
Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2009
An American book which gives information about caring for someone with cancer, including how to support them when they have symptoms or side effects.
A Bloch and others
American Cancer Society, 2010
An American book but most of the information is relevant to the UK. It covers issues such as preventing weight loss and coping with dehydration, fatigue, and infection. It also discusses eating problems and digestion issues, such as swallowing problems, feeling sick and dealing with mouth sores. Focuses on survivorship and how to eat well after treatment.
A Ko, E Rosenbaum and M Dollinger
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2009
The author and contributors of this book are all American cancer specialists. The book covers how cancer is diagnosed, treated and managed day to day.
Sheldon Press, 2012
Written by a cancer dietitian, this is a practical handbook for people with cancer. Filled with helpful tips and recipes.
Dr P Mortimer and G Levine
Elliott & Thompson, 2017
Explains the causes and symptoms of lymphoedema. Describes treatments, including massage, exercise, and compression garments. It also has information about coping day-to-day with lymphoedema.
M Williams and others
Guilford Press, 2007
An American book, but two of the authors are British researchers who are helping to promote mindfulness based cognitive therapy courses for people experiencing stress and depression in the UK. A CD of guided meditations is included with the book.
Books and booklets about cancer and sex
S Kydd and D Rowett
Big Think Media, 2006
A responsible guide featuring personal stories and expert voices. Intimacy after Cancer takes an in-depth look at how women respond to, deal with, and overcome barriers to intimacy after a life-changing cancer diagnosis.
J H Haynes & Co Ltd, 2009
A practical guide to sexual health and enjoyment.
Macmillan Cancer Support
This booklet offers information to young people about all aspects of sex and relationships and discusses the effects of cancer treatment on fertility. It also has coping strategies and options for fertility treatment in people whose fertility is affected. Available free to people affected by cancer from Macmillan Cancer Support by calling 0808 500 800.
Sexual Advice Association
This booklet aims to help cancer patients and their partners understand sexual difficulties that may happen after cancer and ways of overcoming them. Available on the Sexual Advice Association website.
If you would like to recommend a book
You can recommend a book that you have found helpful by using our feedback form. It helps us if you include the title, author, publisher's name and year, and the ISBN number.