Cancer waiting times

You may have recently heard in the news about cancer waiting times being longer than usual. If you’re worried about how this might affect you, we’re here to help.

Cancer waiting times at record high

Updated on 10 March 2022

There have been recent news reports about cancer waiting times being at a record high. This might be impacting people who have been referred by their GP and are waiting to see a cancer specialist. It might also be affecting people who are waiting to start their cancer treatment.

We understand that this is worrying news for a lot of people. You may be already experiencing a delay, or you might be worried about how this news might affect you. We are here to support you.

Emotional support if you are worried about cancer waiting times

You may want to speak to somebody about how you are feeling. This could be a healthcare professional, a friend or somebody in the community. We provide services to support you.

Talk to one of our cancer nurses

If you are concerned about waiting times, referrals, changes or disruption to your treatment, or you have questions about cancer, you can contact our specially trained nurses. Call the Macmillan Support Line for free on 0808 808 00 00 (7 days a week, 8am – 8pm).

You can also get support by:

Macmillan Buddies

Macmillan Buddies are trained volunteers who often have a cancer experience or know someone who has. They can support you with a weekly phone call.

Sign up to receive a weekly call from a Macmillan Buddy.

Online Community

The Macmillan Online Community is our cancer forum. It's free and open to everyone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can share what you're feeling with others with cancer and get support.

You can also ask one of our cancer experts a question and get a reply within 2 working days.

Tailored email support

If you've recently been diagnosed with cancer, sign up to receive regular tailored emails with information and support.

Other emotional help

We have information about other ways people with cancer can get emotional help.

This includes things like:

Looking after your physical health and well-being

If you are waiting for treatment, it's important to maintain a healthy lifestyle so you are fit for treatment.

A healthy, balanced diet and staying active can also help give back a sense of control if you’re waiting for a referral.

Here is information and services to help you take care of your physical health and well-being.

Eating well and keeping active

Eating well and keeping active will help you keep up your strength, increase your energy levels and improve your sense of well-being. We have advice to help eat well and stay active.


SafeFit cancer exercise specialists offer free, remote advice, support and resources to help you keep active and eat healthily. SafeFit is being trailed in response to COVID-19, to support physical activity while social distancing.

Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacists

Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacists provide local, in-store support to people living with or affected by cancer. They can help to answer your questions about medication, listen to any concerns, and guide you to other sources of information and support.

Support if you are concerned about the quality of your care

Everyone should get the very best cancer care and treatment, no matter what their situation.

Our Raising Your Voice toolkit is here to help everyone get equal cancer care as an NHS patient in England. It has advice for people who are experiencing changes, delays or cancellations. There is also guidance for people who feel they are not receiving the care they are entitled to.

The toolkit includes information such as:

  • Understanding your cancer care rights
  • Challenging conversations about your cancer care
  • Cancer support groups.

Find out more about the Raising Your Voice toolkit.