TENS of thousands of people in Wales with cancer have barely left their homes in months amid fears over catching coronavirus, according to a research from charity Macmillan Cancer Support.

The charity is warning that coronavirus is having a devastating impact on the physical and mental health of people with cancer in Wales as they face the two ‘deadly Cs’ all at once, and is urging those struggling with lockdown to contact its support line service.

The research results suggest a staggering 39,000 people with cancer in Wales (23 per cent of the total) have barely left the house because they are scared about catching the virus, or are generally scared or anxious about leaving the house.

And a shocking 9,000 (five per cent) have experienced panic or anxiety attacks because of the virus.

Macmillan is concerned that last week’s announcements about how shielding will start to be phased out in England and Northern Ireland could add to people’s worries if they feel information is unclear or support could be taken away.

It is estimated that around 22,000 people with cancer in Wales (13 per cent) have not left the house at all since the start of lockdown and they will not feel safe enough to do so until a vaccine or effective treatment is widely available, or when there are no new cases of the virus being reported.


The virus and associated lockdown has left more than one in four (28 per cent) of people with cancer in Wales (48,000) feeling stressed, anxious or depressed. And around 13,000 people in Wales with cancer have seen their mental health worsen due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, around one in seven (14 per cent) have experienced a decline in their physical health during lockdown, including sleep problems, fatigue or extreme tiredness, or pain. The research suggests too, that around half of people with cancer in Wales (55 per cent) have not taken any outdoor exercise.

The latest research also suggests the number of people with cancer across the UK who have chosen to ‘shield’ at home is much higher than those deemed ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’ to coronavirus.

More than 700,000 people (24 per cent of those with cancer) say they had not left the house other than for essential medical appointments during the first two stages of lockdown. This is almost three times as many as official estimates, and includes 48,000 of those with cancer in Wales.

Macmillan is calling for the Welsh Government to continue prioritising the mental and physical health of people living with cancer, include ensuring the staffing and resources needed to deliver the safest possible care.

“Since the start of lockdown, Macmillan has been campaigning for cancer not to become the forgotten ‘C’ during this pandemic," said Richard Pugh, the charity's head of partnerships in Wales.

"For many people it is more frightening to be diagnosed with cancer now than during any other time in recent history. On top of the usual worries about a cancer diagnosis, patients now feel lost in lockdown, having to contend with uncertainty around treatment, shielding restrictions and isolation from loved ones, as well as concerns about their increased risk of contracting the virus.

“We’re doing everything we can do be there for people with cancer during the pandemic, but these findings show the devastating emotional and physical legacy awaiting cancer patients if the Welsh Government does not urgently prioritise their physical and mental health.”