HUNDREDS of cancer patients in Southampton are forced to face the devastating disease with little or no support from loved ones, shocking statistics have revealed .

Latest figures from Macmillan Cancer Support have found that a quarter of all newly diagnosed patients in the city - around 250 a year - lack support from family and friends during one of the most traumatic times of their lives.

And of these around 50 sufferers each year receives no help whatsoever, facing their cancer battle completely alone and putting their lives at risk.

So in a bid to reduce the number of those fighting their battle alone, Macmillan are launching a new campaign to tackle the crisis which is set to get worse if action is not taken now.

The Facing the Fight Alone report found that the detrimental effects of isolation for those fighting cancer can be life-threatening, with more than half skipping meals.

More than one in four have not been able to wash themselves properly and 11 per cent have missed appointments to hospital or their GP.

The report also discovered the heartbreaking reality that one in eight cancer sufferers hadn't had a single visit from friends or family in over six months.

Such lack in support from their loved ones has resulted in more than half of health professionals having patients who opt not to have treatment and 56 per cent of believed isolation shortened life expectancy of their patients.

David Crosby, from the charity, said: “This research shows that isolation can have a truly shattering impact on people living with cancer.

“Patients are going hungry, missing medical appointments and even deciding to reject treatment altogether which could be putting their lives at risk - all because of a lack of support.

“But these figures are just the tip of the iceberg. As the number of people living with cancer is set to double from two to four million by 2030, isolation will become an increasing problem and we need to address this now.

“That's why we are launching a new campaign to help tackle this crisis and to ensure that in future, no-one faces cancer alone.”