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Thousands living with advanced cancer, says Macmillan

From BBC - November 7, 2017

Thousands of people in England who have the most advanced cancers are surviving for several years after diagnosis, according to new research.

Macmillan Cancer Support said it was down to new treatments but warned that living longer with advanced cancer can bring its own difficulties.

Emma Young, 39, was diagnosed with breast and bone cancer at 35.

"The not-knowing is the hardest, from scan to scan you do not know how it will be," she says.

"From the time you have the scan until you get the results is really hard - 'scanziety' is what we call it."

Her diagnosis in May 2014 was delayed after doctors misdiagnosed her symptoms. Days after being told she had breast cancer she was told it had spread to her bones.

Stage 4 cancer is where the disease has already spread to at least one other part of the body - which in many cases cannot be cured.

Previously, stage 4 cancer patients often had limited options but Macmillan Cancer Support said the new data showed that new and improved treatments mean it can be "more 'treatable' and manageable, like other chronic illnesses".

But living longer with stage 4 cancer can bring other issues for patients, says Adrienne Betteley, the charity's specialist adviser for end-of-life care.

"This is really positive news, but living with advanced cancer can be a difficult situation to be in.

"As well as dealing with the physical symptoms of cancer, having multiple hospital appointments, scans and treatment options to contend with, there's also the emotional and psychological impact of having an uncertain future."

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The way Emma chose to cope was by refusing to let doctors give her a prognosis.

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