Resources and support
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 is the largest cancer research organisation in the world outside the USA. We fund research on all aspects of cancer from its causes to prevention and treatment.
We are committed to producing high quality information for people affected by cancer. As well as looking at the information on this website you can call our nurse freephone helpline on 0808 800 4040. They are available from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Or you can send them a question online.
Cancer Chat is our online forum where you can share experiences.
General support and information organisations
General Medical Helpline: 020 8994 9874 (Monday to Friday, 6pm to 8pm)
The Medical Advisory Service offers information and advice on medical and health care matters.
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
There are many times in our lives when we all really feel we need someone to listen to us. This is basically what counselling is – someone to listen to you. Being heard properly can be really important if you have cancer.
Organisations that provide equipment
This is an online shop for daily living equipment for the disabled community, older people, or those who look after people with difficulty getting around.
Phone: 01273 719889
Offers mobility aids at low cost to help both elderly people and disabled adults and children. Has an extensive range of daily living aids and disability equipment.
Phone: 0845 5194734, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm – local rates apply from a landline
Mobile number: 01772 675040
Specific symptoms organisations
The Bladder and Bowel Foundation formed in 2008 from the former organisations Incontact and the Continence Foundation. It supports people living with bladder and bowel disorders and has a telephone helpline. The service is confidential. They can also give you information about stoma products.
They have a 'Just can't wait' card which allows holders access to toilets in shops and pubs etc. They ask for a £5 donation to receive this card.
Nurse helpline for medical advice: 0845 345 0165
General enquiries: 01536 533255
A UK support group for ostomates. The Colostomy Association provides information and support for anyone with a colostomy.
Helpline: 0800 328 4257 (24hr helpline)
Tel: 0118 939 1537 (9am-5pm, Monday to Friday)
A support group for anyone who suffers from chronic pain. They deliver self management training to help those with chronic pain.
Freephone: 0800 783 6059 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 4.30pm)
Provides support, advice and help in various ways to people affected by chronic pain and those close to them.
Tel: 01362 820750
PainLine 0845 6031593 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm)
Offers information and support to people with pain and those who care for them. They run a helpline staffed by volunteers, and have an online forum called HealthUnlocked for members to share experiences. You can listen to podcasts which feature interviews with experts and people who are managing their pain. You can also subscribe to their magazine, Pain Matters.
Telephone: 0131 669 5951
Helpline: 0300 123 0789 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm)
This organisation provides information and support for people who need artificial feeding. They also have regional support groups for PINNT members.
A national charity offering information and support to anyone affected by lymphoedema. It has local support groups, a helpline and a website. It also produces a range of information including factsheets about lymphoedema and its treatment, 2 DVDs about self management techniques for lymphoedema, and a quarterly newsletter.
Telephone: 020 7351 0990 (Administration)
A registered charity that aims to improve the lives of those with lymphoedema. They actively contribute to the improvement of the management of lymphoedema worldwide and especially in developing countries. They have a number of booklets that can be downloaded free of charge.
The BLS is mainly for health professionals caring for people with lymphoedema. They aim to encourage research and produce guidelines.
Telephone: 01452 790 178
MLD UK promotes public awareness of Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) from the point of view of both the patient and practitioners for people with lymphoedema. They publish a register of practitioners of MLD.
Telephone: 0844 800 1988
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
Provides information about the help and therapy available for sexual difficulties.
Telephone: 020 8543 2707
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 from libraries, bookshops or online booksellers
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.
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.
Sheldon Press, 2012
Written by a cancer dietitian, this is a practical handbook for people with cancer. Filled with helpful tips and recipes.
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.
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 sex and cancer
J H Haynes & Co Ltd, 2009
A practical guide to sexual health and enjoyment.
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.
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
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