NHS WARNING TO SEEK HELP FOR CANCER SYMPTOMS, AS HALF OF PUBLIC REPORT CONCERNS WITH GETTING CHECKED
England’s top cancer doctor has urged people not to hesitate to get checked as new research revealed that nearly half of the public have concerns about seeking help during the coronavirus pandemic.
One in 10 people would not contact their GP even if they had a lump or a new mole which did not go away after a week, the survey found.
Another third of people would worry about seeking help, according to polling carried out by Portland.
Getting coronavirus or giving it to their family were among the top reasons that people would not come forward when they have cancer symptoms along with fears that they could be a burden to the health service.
Professor Peter Johnson, the NHS clinical director for cancer, stressed that NHS staff had worked hard to make sure people can get cancer checks and treatment safely so there is no need to delay.
Waiting to get help could have serious consequences for patients and put a greater burden on the NHS, Prof Johnson said.
Online consultations mean people do not necessarily need to go to GP surgeries for check-ups while COVID-free cancer hubs have been set up to provide surgery along with independent sector hospitals who have signed an unprecedented deal with the NHS.
Virus protected hubs are up and running in 19 areas of the country to date so people can have their operation safely with thousands of patients already having treatment through a hub.
Professor Peter Johnson, NHS national clinical director for cancer, said: “NHS staff have made huge efforts to deal with coronavirus but they are also working hard to ensure that patients can safely access essential services such as cancer checks and urgent surgery.
“From online consultations to the roll-out of cancer treatment hubs we are doing all we can to make sure patients receive the life-saving care that they need.
“The wishes of patients and their families will always come first, and we have to make sure that people feel safe coming to hospitals, but my message is clear: people should seek help as they always would.
“We know that finding cancer early gives us the best chance to cure it, and ignoring potential problems can have serious consequences now or in the future.”
Prof Johnson’s call follows sharp drop in cancer referrals as patients are not contacting their GP for health advice.
A major public information campaign launched last week to encourage people to contact their GP or 111 if they have urgent care needs and to attend hospital if they are told they should.
Grant Stewart, Professor of Surgical Oncology at the University of Cambridge and an Honorary Urological Surgeon at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge said; “For kidney cancer, blood in the urine is the key symptom. If you see a redness to your wee please let your GP know who will refer you onto us in the urology departments. Urology departments are open for business. Because of COVID19 we have adapted how we look after our patients for example using telephone or video calls rather than face-to-face appointments, but we can still investigate new symptoms and treat kidney cancer. Do not delay letting your doctor know about new symptoms.”
Dr Ekaterini Boleti, Consultant Medical Oncologist at London’s Royal Free, added; “Those patients with symptoms and previously undiagnosed cancer may be inclined to postpone GP appointments because of the fear of being infected with coronavirus. In reality, suspected cancer patients should be consulted in a COVID-19 free environment. Someone who is feeling very unwell may also feel that a telephone consultation with the GP is not going to help them but it is important to stress that we want patients to contact us for advice or help. As oncologists we are here to help all patients in the best possible way, even under these challenging circumstances. So I urge anyone with signs of cancer or any serious health concerns to seek medical advice without delay.”
Jane Lyons, CEO of Cancer52 said: “It’s so important that people who think they might have a cancer symptom get in touch with their GP. Putting off getting in touch won’t be helpful in the long run so please do take that first step. It is important to remember that most of the time symptoms that could be cancer don’t turn out to be cancer, and if they are, the sooner you get some help the better.”
Nick Turkentine, CEO Kidney Cancer UK & Kidney Cancer Scotland concluded; “We add our voice to reassure those who feel they may have symptoms of any form of cancer to seek medical support and get themselves checked. We cannot emphasise the importance of an early diagnosis, especially when it comes to kidney cancer. Please, the NHS, the medical profession and we implore you, see your GP if you have signs of cancer without delay.”