Cancer patients are being urged not to suffer in silence, amidst fears of a “loneliness epidemic.”

Concerns have been raised over the number of local people with cancer who are stressed or depressed because of coronavirus and feel they have no-one to talk to.

With fears that some patients may be deciding against seeking help from the NHS at a time when health services are under severe strain due to the pandemic, the Macmillan cancer charity is encouraging people to contact its expert nurses for support.

It is worried about the additional emotional burden facing people with cancer, many of whom have been isolating since lockdown began in March last year, with some receiving diagnoses and bad news without friends or family around them.

**With NHS staff facing unprecedented pressure, the charity has launched an appeal, calling for anyone with cancer who needs help to call the cancer nurses and other experts who staff its support line, with a base in Glasgow.**

Janice Preston, head of Macmillan in Scotland, said: “We’re getting an increasing number of calls from people with cancer who are struggling with isolation and experiencing very high anxiety levels, many of whom don’t have their usual support of family and friends around them.

“We’re worried cancer patients are facing a loneliness epidemic.

“At a time when healthcare staff are facing unprecedented challenges, we want people with cancer to know our nurses, benefits advisors and other experts are just a phone call away.

“Peer support is also available 24 hours a day on our online community.

“Whether someone is worried about their treatment and shielding or just wants someone to talk to, Macmillan is here for them.”

People can call experts at the Macmillan Support Line seven days a week on 0808 808 0000.

Help is also available through the charity’s Telephone Buddies scheme – an eight-week support system for people with cancer who may be isolated from loved ones.

*Peer-to-peer support is available 24 hours a day on its Online Community, an online forum with over 90,000 members.*

The latest guidance on coronavirus for people with cancer can be found on the charity’s online Covid-19 hub at