UP to a third of cancer patients in Dorset are not being kept fully informed about their treatment, a survey suggests.

Patients aged 16 and over who underwent cancer-related treatment between April and June 2017 were asked about their care as part of the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey, carried out by Quality Health on behalf of NHS England.

When asked if they had been given enough information about how their radiotherapy or chemotherapy was going, 39 per cent of patients at Dorset County Hospital, 35 per cent at Poole Hospital and 27 per cent at Royal Bournemouth Hospital said 'yes, to some extent' or 'no', which were both counted as negative responses.

Dr Jeanette Dickson, vice president of clinical oncology at the Royal College of Radiologists, said giving ongoing updates to patients during their treatment could be very complicated.

"Many cancer treatments are not straightforward and response to therapy is not immediately able to be assessed as patients would wish," she said.

"While patients are being treated with modern chemotherapy and radiotherapy they are in a fast-moving situation where progress might seem to stall and then change quickly, and the impact of treatments is not always clear every step of the way, especially as we try novel drugs that act in new ways.

"Doctors are aware of this, but perhaps need to acknowledge this uncertainty more often in view of this survey.

"Ultimately, the survey results remind us that cancer patients are in a vulnerable situation, and oncologists need to be continually assessing all their patients’ needs every time they have a consultation or a meeting."

On average, 35 per cent of patients in England said they had not had enough information.

The results were worse for patients having radiotherapy than for those undergoing chemotherapy.

Just 49 per cent of the former said they had enough information at Dorset County, compared with 66 per cent of the latter.

Bournemouth had the best results, with 63 per cent of the radiotherapy patients entirely satisfied, compared with 76 per cent of the chemo recipients.

The survey showed experiences of cancer patients across England were "generally very positive", with patients giving an average rating of 8.8 out of ten for their overall care. All three Dorset hospitals received a higher rating.

Across England, some of the lowest scores were seen in patients' experiences of health and social services – such as home visits by nurses and physiotherapy.

Cancer Support UK said the survey showed post-treatment support options needed to be "urgently addressed".

Chief executive Gemma Holding said: "Inequalities in health and well-being provision across the UK mean that some patients – based on where they live – have better access to, and receive higher quality health care than others.

"We know that when people’s official treatment ends, rather than feeling better, this is often when people can feel at their worst.

"However, once physical treatment ends, cancer patients are often discharged with no support to manage the ongoing emotional challenges.

"Psychological support for people with cancer is essential to recovery, during and after treatment."