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Support groups


What is a cancer support group?

Cancer support groups provide an opportunity for people affected by cancer to meet for discussions in an emotionally supportive environment. Groups may also choose to engage in fundraising, advocacy, practical support or social and educational activities, according to the wants and needs of members. 

Group members can discuss the impacts of diagnosis and treatment and access evidence-based information for themselves and for families and carers. 

Cancer support groups are often a place of social connections, where people can learn not only to live with cancer but also to enjoy life during and after their treatment. 

Support groups meet at locations and times that suit their particular members and offer activities determined by group members. Some groups have a specific-cancer focus (for example, a focus on breast or prostate cancer) while others are open to people affected by any type of cancer. Groups can also choose to focus on people sharing other characteristics, for example ethnicity or age group. 

Every group is different so people thinking of attending a group are advised to try a few to find one that is a good fit for their needs.

Tips to finding the right support group

How do I find a support group?

There are many great support groups available to people affected by cancer. To find one that is right for you we suggest you search one of the following ways:

  • Ask your healthcare team if they can recommend one. Often groups are run by health professionals with expertise or an interest in the area.
  • Ask at your treatment centre
  • Enquire at lead organisations of the cancer you have eg. Prostate Cancer Foundation or Ovarian Cancer Australia etc. These organisations will often have information about support groups on their website and may be able to link you in.
  • Search My Cancer Guide for support groups in your area. This is not an exhaustive list so we recommend that you also speak your health team.
  • Search online. Some support groups have Facebook pages which will allow you to get in contact. Be aware, however, that support groups should have their Facebook page set to private and should have guidelines around how their page works.
  • Telephone support groups provide a chance to connect with others over the phone.
  • Cancer Council Online Community is a moderated, online peer-support community where patients, partners, family, friends and carers can connect with others to share stories and find support.

What else do I need to know?

Once you’ve identified a potential group and have been put in touch with the group leader, here are some questions you could ask to help you decide whether this is the right group for you:

  • Where and when does the group meet?
  • Who comes along to the group? Are carers/family members welcome? How many people attend?
  • What is the format of the group meetings? Is it formal or informal? What can I expect when I attend the first meeting? Are there guest speakers? What about other social activities?
  • Are there group guidelines? What is the purpose of the group? Does the group take confidentiality seriously?
  • Has the leader had any training? What is their own cancer experience?
  • Is there any cost involved? e.g. a gold coin donation for refreshments
  • How long does each session go for?
  • Do I have to attend a certain number of sessions or can I tap in and out as needed?

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Questions about cancer?

Call or email our experienced cancer nurses for information and support.

Contact a cancer nurse