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Resources and organisations

There are lots of organisations, support groups and 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 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

NHS 111 gives information if you need fast medical help but its not a 999 emergency. 

The Medical Advisory Service provides a telephone helpline and online advice on all medical and healthcare matters.

Tel: 020 8994 9874 (6pm to 8pm weekdays Monday to Friday)

Email: office@medicaladvisoryservice.org.uk

For general health advice and information.

NHS Inform gives information about illnesses, treatments and NHS services for people in Scotland.

NHS Helpline: 0800 22 44 88 (Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 10.00pm and Saturday and Sunday, 9.00am to 5.00pm) - for details of pharmacies, GP practices and dentists in Scotland.

NHS 24 is a confidential telephone health advice and information service for people in Scotland. It provides urgent advice out of hours.

Phone: 111

Macmillan Cancer Support is a charity that gives practical, medical and financial support to people with cancer in the UK. Its helpline gives guidance on cancer and advice on benefits. It also publishes booklets about cancer and treatments. Information is available in other languages.

Freephone: 0808 808 00 00 (7 days a week, 8am to 8pm)
Contact email form

Cancer Focus Northern Ireland have a cancer information helpline and information and resource centre. They provide public and professional education, rehabilitation programmes and support groups for patients and relatives.

40-44 Eglantine Avenue
Belfast
BT9 6DX

Cancer nurse helpline: 0800 783 3339 Monday - Friday 9am to 1pm
Email: helpline@cancerfocusni.org

Tenovus Cancer Care provides an information service on all aspects of cancer. The charity provides practical and emotional support for people with cancer and their families. They have mobile support units bring cancer treatment into local communities in Wales.

Gleider house
Ty Glas road
Cardiff
CF14 5BD

Support line: 0808 808 1010

Organisations that provide equipment

You can borrow toileting aids or a wheelchair short term from The British Red Cross. This might be for free, or they may ask for a donation in your area.

There are many commercial companies that sell equipment online, via catalogues or in shops. Here are some tips when shopping around:

  • Ask an occupational therapist what they think might be best to meet your needs – your Nurse Specialist, district nurse or GP can refer you to an occupational therapist if you don’t have one
  • Compare prices between different companies
  • Check if you can return the item if it’s not exactly what you are looking for (this is usually if it is unused and in its original packaging)
  • Look for a number to call if you are unsure about how to safely fit or use the equipment

The Disabled Living Foundation has an advice and information service on their website. This can help you when you’re looking for a specific piece of daily living equipment. They offer impartial advice and suggestions of equipment from reputable companies. You can also call them for advice.

Red Cross services vary in different parts of the country. They provide medical equipment, transport and hospital escort services, home emergency personal care and home respite care. There are branches throughout the UK.

Telephone: 0844 871 111

Email: information@redcross.org.uk

The Disabled Living Foundation gives information and advice on equipment and aids to help with daily living.

Helpline: 0300 999 0004 
Email: helpline@dlf.org.uk

Specific symptoms organisations

The Bladder and Bowel Community 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 when you are out. It's free to order on the website.

Forward House
17 High Street
Henley-in-Arden
B95 5AA
General enquiries: 01926 357220
Email: help@bladderandbowel.org

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)
Email: info@painassociation.com

A charity that is being run entirely by volunteers. Provides support, advice and help in various ways to people affected by chronic pain and those close to them.

Telephone helpline (PainLine): 0345 603 1593
Email: aopisat@btinternet.com

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.

Helpline: 0300 123 0789 (Monday: 2pm to 4pm and Friday: 10am-12pm & 2pm-4pm )
Email: help@painconcern.org.uk

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.

Helpline: 0808 800 6000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and Saturday, 10am to 2pm)
Telephone: 0345 092 0800 (general enquiries)
Email: info@breastcancercare.org.uk

This organisation provides support and information for people with neurological conditions and their relatives. It also produces free booklets on these conditions, including brain and spinal tumours.

Phone: 0808 808 1000 (Monday to Thursday 9am to 2pm, Friday 9am to 1pm)

Prostate Cancer UK provides information and support to anyone with concerns about prostate cancer. They have a helpline, produce information and fund research into prostate cancer. 

Email: info@prostatecanceruk.org
Helpline: 0800 074 8383

Myeloma UK is dedicated to funding research, providing information and supporting those with myeloma. They produce booklets, which are available on their website, or they will send you an information pack. They can provide a list of myeloma support groups in the UK. They have an online discussion forum and myeloma TV.

Helpline: 0800 980 3332 (Freephone Mon to Fri, 9.00am to 5.00pm)
Admin tel: 0131 557 3332

Email: myelomauk@myeloma.org.uk

This organisation does not have a patient forum, but works closely with Myeloma UK. The website has information about clinical trials that are taking place in the UK and guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of myeloma. This is really a site for researchers and doctors with an interest in myeloma. Much of the information is written in a very scientific way.

The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is a UK charity dedicated to defeating lung cancer. It funds research into early diagnosis and provides support to patients and their families. It also helps people to stop smoking and provides anti smoking education materials for children and young people.

People affected by lung cancer can share experiences through the foundation's network of support groups and the online discussion forum: Talk and Share.

Lung Cancer Helpline: 0333 323 7200 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)

Organisations that can help with issues of sex and sexuality

Offers private and confidential counselling, and psychosexual therapy to help with relationship problems. They provide counselling over the phone, through a webcam or face to face at a Relate centre. They also have live chat on their website.

Booking line: 0300 003 0396 (Monday-Thursday: 8am to 8pm,  Friday: 8am to 6pm, Saturday: 9am to 1pm)

College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT) provides information about what help and therapy is available for sexual difficulties.

Telephone: 020 8543 2707
Email: info@cosrt.org.uk

The Sexual Advice Association provide lists of local specialist practitioners, as well as fact sheets on problems such as erectile dysfunction (impotence).

Relationships Scotland provides relationship counselling, family mediation, child contact centres and other family support services across all of mainland and island Scotland.

InfoLine: 0345 119 2020 (open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm)

Email: enquiries@relationships-scotland.org.uk

Books about cancer

A Ko, E Rosenbaum and M Dollinger
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2009
ISBN 9780740786310

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.

100 Questions and Answers about Cancer Symptoms and Cancer Treatment Side Effects (2nd edition)

J F Kelvin and L B Tyson
Jones and Bartlett Publishing, 2010
ISBN 978-0763777609

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
ISBN 0763762571

An American book which gives information about caring for someone with cancer, including how to support them when they have symptoms or side effects.

Jane Freeman
Sheldon Press, 2012
ISBN 9781847091413

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
ISBN 978-0944235782

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.

M Williams and others
Guilford Press, 2007
ISBN 1593851286

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 about sex and cancer

Ian Banks
J H Haynes & Co Ltd, 2009
ISBN 1844258084

A practical guide to sexual health and enjoyment. 

S Kydd and D Rowett
Big Think Media, 2006
ISBN 0978810805

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. 

Books about end of life

Caring for someone who is dying (Carer's handbook)
Penny Mares
Age Concern Books, 2003
ISBN 0862423708

Combines practical information about money and legal matters with coping with the illness and issues of grief and bereavement. Talks about the role of hospitals, hospices and community cancer care teams. Has some carer’s stories.

Robert Buckman
Britnell Book Wholesalers, 2000
ISBN 1550130927

Helps family, carers and friends support and care for a dying person. Discusses how to talk and listen and outlines the dying process.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama and J Hopkins
Atria Books, 2004
ISBN 978-0743244695

Discusses how to approach death as a natural part of life. It is written in a warm, humorous and sensitive style.

R B Patt and S S Lang
Oxford University Press, 2006
ISBN 9780195312027

Written to help people with cancer and their close friends and family make decisions about living with cancer and managing symptoms. Some sections are specific to the US. But it is still helpful for people in the UK

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