WESSEX Cancer Trust, a charity that provides free emotional and practical support for anyone living with cancer, has this week launched major research to find out how best to help people.

The results will put the views and experiences of patients, carers and healthcare professionals at the heart of shaping cancer support services across the region.

The research is being run with Bournemouth University. Experts will survey hundreds of people aged between 10 and 100 who have any type of cancer at any stage, families and friends affected by cancer, and stakeholders including hospitals, local authorities, other charities and hospices.

Questions will include: What do people affected by cancer worry about or need? What gaps do service providers feel need to be filled? And what do families and friends need in terms of support?

University researchers will analyse the responses to help Wessex Cancer Trust to build up an accurate picture of need, and make sure local people receive the best possible support from the charity.

Launching the survey, trust chief executive Cait Allen said: “As a regional charity, we have the flexibility and freedom to tailor our services to our own unique populations, and that’s how we’ve been able to provide very specific and relevant support to people affected by cancer in our local area. We’re committed to evolution and innovation, and this new research will help us develop our services to directly address local need.

“Over 100,000 people are living with cancer in this region. The impact on them and their families is wide-reaching, and lasts well beyond the end of treatment. The recently published NHS Long Term Plan (www.longtermplan.nhs.uk) has a strong focus on diagnosis, meaning more people will be living with cancer and for longer."