Background: Lifestyle change following a cancer diagnosis can improve long-term outcomes. Many patients do not receive professional advice about lifestyle and are increasingly using the internet for further information. Both statutory and voluntary sectors play an important role in provision of information and are favoured by cancer survivors. Little is known about what lifestyle information these organisations provide online for cancer survivors.
Aim: To identify lifestyle information provided by the statutory and voluntary sectors in England on tobacco, physical activity, diet, weight, and alcohol for people diagnosed with breast, prostate or colorectal cancer.
Methods: The National Health Service (NHS) website was the focus of the search for statutory sector information. The Charity Commission database was searched to identify the three largest voluntary organisations for cancer in general and breast, prostate and colorectal cancers. The organisations were searched systematically to identify lifestyle information for cancer survivors. If no online information was available, they were contacted to ask for further information.
Results: The NHS did not provide any lifestyle information for cancer survivors but linked to Cancer Research UK’s (largest cancer charity in England) information about diet. 7/12 voluntary organisations had lifestyle information for cancer survivors on their websites. Macmillan and the WCRF had the most comprehensive guides, covering physical activity, diet, weight management, smoking and alcohol, whereas the others had briefer information. Five organisations provided no lifestyle information online but when contacted said they would direct people to other sources. Eight organisations suggested talking to a health professional before making changes.
Conclusions: Few organisations in England have comprehensive lifestyle information for cancer survivors. Most recommended that cancer survivors should talk to a health professional before making lifestyle changes. Health professionals might benefit from training to deal with questions about lifestyle and have the confidence to advise cancer survivors in this area.