Health

Don’t sit on cancer symptoms during coronavirus outbreak

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Richard Pugh, Chair of the Wales Cancer Alliance and Head of Partnerships for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales. Photo credit: Tom Martin

Wales’s leading cancer charities are urging people with cancer symptoms to see their doctor as GPs warn the coronavirus outbreak is keeping people with these symptoms away.

The 20 charities in the Wales Cancer Alliance are asking people to see their GP as usual if they have concerning symptoms such as changes to their body, unexplained lumps or bleeding and coughs which don’t go away after three weeks.

Their warning comes as many GPs in Wales report a worrying drop in the number of people who are seeing them with suspected cancer symptoms.

Clinicians are reporting a 75 per cent drop in urgent cancer referrals in Wales since the coronavirus outbreak started.

Doctors are urging people with new or changing symptoms which could be cancer to see their GP.

GP and Macmillan GP Advisor Elise Lang said: “In general practice we are working hard to adapt our usual processes in order to keep our patients COVID19 free.

“We are definitely still working but we are working in a new way.

“If you are worried about any new or changing symptom, I would ask you to contact your GP surgery and let us call you and work through the symptoms together and decide what is needed.

“We ask that you stay home and stay safe but seeing your primary care team may be an essential journey.”

Many GP surgeries are now offering appointments over the phone or virtually, which can be accessed easily and securely on a smartphone through a link.

When people need to be seen in person, GP staff may be wearing personal protection equipment to maintain safety.

Richard Pugh, Chair of the Wales Cancer Alliance and Head of Partnerships for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, said: “While these are exceptional circumstances, speedy diagnosis of cancer continues to be of utmost importance.

“Although many people referred for tests won’t have cancer, it’s vital symptoms are investigated as soon as possible. there’s a risk the current crisis could become a longer-term cancer crisis.

“We want people to know their GP surgery is open and staff want to hear from them if they have any symptoms.”

The Wales Cancer Alliance is a coalition of 20 charities working together to prevent cancer, improve care, fund research and influence policy in Wales. Member organisations are:

  • Brain Tumour Trust
  • Breast Cancer Now
  • Bowel Cancer UK
  • British Liver Trust
  • Blood Cancer Alliance
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Cancer Research Wales
  • Clic Sargent
  • Hospices Cymru
  • Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust
  • Macmillan Cancer Support
  • Maggie’s
  • Marie Curie
  • Ovarian Cancer Action
  • Myeloma UK
  • Pancreatic Cancer UK
  • Prostate Cancer UK
  • Target Ovarian Cancer
  • Teenage Cancer Trust
  • Tenovus Cancer Care

The Wales Cancer Alliance has a page on its website with helpful resources, information and support for people living with cancer in Wales – https://walescanceralliance.org/2020/03/21/support-for-people-living-with-cancer/

Rhys Gregory
Editor of Wales247.co.uk

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