Be careful! Here are the words you should dare not mention to a cancer patient

Fighter, warrior, hero – some of the terms you might see used to describe people with cancer.

But according to a new survey, for some with the illness the words are seen as inappropriate rather than uplifting.

The UK poll by Macmillan Cancer Support of 2,000 people who have or had cancer found “cancer-stricken” and “victim” were also among the least-liked terms.

Calling a person’s cancer diagnosis a “war” or a “battle” and saying they had “lost their battle” or “lost their fight” when they died, were other unpopular descriptions, according to the poll carried out by YouGov.

Articles in the media and posts on social networks were found to be the worst offenders for using such language.

Mandy Mahoney, 47, has incurable metastatic breast cancer.

The outreach support worker, from London, was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 and it has since returned five times.

She said: “I think cancer-speak can be quite negatively loaded – the brave, fighter, warrior and survivor standard descriptors put an awful lot of pressure on the newly diagnosed.”

Mandy said she also objected to describing people as “losing their battle” with cancer.

“That confers that you didn’t fight or gave up,” she said.

Instead, she prefers “clear, factual language” and describes herself simply as “living with incurable cancer”.

“I’m not brave or inspirational, I’m just trying to live the life I have left well,” she added.

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