A quarter of Brits affected by cancer this festive season

World Cancer Research Fund launches seasonal campaign: Cancer doesn’t care it’s Christmas.

7 December 2020

New YouGov figures reveal that almost a quarter of Brits (24%) will be affected by cancer this Christmas – with either themselves or someone close to them having cancer, or having lost someone to cancer this year.

Of those supposed to receive treatment for cancer this year – or know a family member or close friend who was1 – 42% said they, or the person close to them, have had treatment delayed, with 21% delayed by more than three months.

The data was commissioned by World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), who are launching a series of short films featuring people affected by cancer talking about Christmas firsts – whether their first Christmas with cancer, or with someone special missing from around the Christmas table.

Christmas dinner without Mum

One of the films features James Radford from Northamptonshire, who was 19 when he lost his mum to cancer. He says:

Christmas dinner was something my Mum always did. It was something she loved to do for us. Our first Christmas without Mum was very odd because it was quiet, nobody wanted to speak really, it was just an uncomfortable atmosphere to be sat around a Christmas table. Setting four places instead of three by mistake was, I don’t know, it was just natural I guess.

James, who also lost his grandmother, aunt and, most recently, stepmother to cancer, has an inherited condition – Lynch syndrome – which means he has a higher risk of getting certain cancers such as bowel cancer.  He is a committed fundraiser for WCRF, regularly taking part in challenge events – including two Virgin Marathons. He says:

The fundraising gives me focus, something positive to channel my energies into. If I can help one person not to have to deal with what I have had to deal with, then I will feel I’ve made a difference.

Surviving cancer, surviving Christmas

Another WCRF film features Tricia George, an NHS nurse from Croydon who is a breast cancer survivor. She says:

Following surgery I was battling with not having any appetite at all. I was actually off food and that was an issue for my family because, knowing how much I love food, they were concerned. [However] I was absolutely determined that we were going to have a joyous Christmas. I set out a schedule, and I paced myself because I was still quite tired but my joy was seeing that Christmas tree go up, the lights, the decorations, the wreath in the window and just seeing things come together. I persevered, and we had a wonderful Christmas, a little different, but it was joyous all the same.

The films highlight how vital WCRF’s research into the links between lifestyle and cancer are. WCRF are asking people to #showcanceryoucare this Christmas by making a donation towards their life-changing work. They are also using social media to signpost how people can tackle some of the issues raised in the films; from loss of taste because of cancer treatment, to honouring the memory of a loved one.


For more information and media enquiries contact Maxine Lenza, Senior Press and Communications Officer at WCRF, on 07717 131 883 or m.lenza@wcrf.org.

Notes to editors

Watch James’s story: https://www.wcrf-uk.org/christmasjames

Watch Tricia’s story: https://www.wcrf-uk.org/christmastricia

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,060 adults and fieldwork was undertaken between 13–16 November 2020.

The surveys were carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

About World Cancer Research Fund

World Cancer Research Fund are part of a network of cancer charities with a global reach, dedicated to the prevention and survival of cancer through a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and being more physically active. By funding and supporting research, developing policy guidance and providing health information, we ensure that people can make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their risk of developing a preventable cancer.

Find out more: www.wcrf-uk.org
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116% of Brits were due to have cancer treatment this year, or someone close to them was.