Around 1 in 2 people born after 1960 are likely develop some form of cancer in their lifetime. As if this isn’t worrying enough the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a significant disruption in the care of cancer patients throughout the UK. In October 2020 Macmillan Cancer Support published a report where it estimated there were 50,000 “missing” cancer diagnoses. This means compared to a similar time period in 2019 there have been 50,000 fewer people diagnosed with cancer. Additionally 22% of patients with confirmed cancer have experienced a disruption in their care.
Despite the above concerning statistics we would like reassure patients who have confirmed or possible cancer their care is incredibly important to us. Our clinicians are continuing to consult with patients, albeit using the nationally advocated telephone triage model.
Those patients who are concerned they might have cancer will be booked in for a telephone or video consultation where a GP or nurse practitioner will obtain as much information as possible about their symptoms. The charity Cancer Research UK has listed a number of potentially worrying symptoms in its webpage below:
After a telephone triage or video consultation a GP or nurse practitioner may arrange an urgent face to face examination and/or investigations. In many instances patients will reassured the symptoms they are experiencing are not cancer related. In some cases, however, the tending clincian may feel it would be sensible to refer urgently to a specialist for further investigation. This is done via a pathway designated as a “2 week wait referral” as the patient should be assessed (face to face or by telephone) by a relevant specialist within 2 weeks. Further information on this pathway is provided below:
Many patients referred via the above urgent pathway will be diagnosed with a condition other than cancer. Sadly, some patients will receive a cancer diagnosis at which point the specialist team may take over this aspect of the patient’s care. Patients with a confirmed cancer diagnosis will continue to be cared for by their GP or nurse practitioner at North Street Medical Care. All should receive a “Cancer Care Review” by our Cancer Lead, Dr Baber Qadir, or the original referring GP within 6 months of diagnosis. If this has not happened for any reason please contact our reception staff and we will arrange one as soon as possible.
Further information and support on cancer care during the Covid-19 pandemic can be obtained by visiting the charities below: