Leading cancer consultants are concerned as referrals down during pandemic

Leading cancer consultants across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are concerned at a drop in the number of patients seeking help who may have cancer symptoms.

They are concerned that this may be because of COVID-19 with people either thinking they don’t want to burden the NHS or they are worried that they may get the virus if they go into hospital.

Dr Paul Ferguson, Consultant Haematologist at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) said: “Cancer referrals from GPs are down almost 75%, which is a huge number of people presenting late with a cancer diagnosis and suffering as a result.

“I would like to urge people with symptoms that they think might be cancer related to contact their GP as soon as possible.

“I know that people have stayed at home to help protect the NHS and they don’t want to put more strain on their local hospital but it is safe to seek help when you need it.”

There are special concerns about:

·         People with cancer symptoms who are not seeking help

·         Elderly patients, especially those living on their own, who are scared to burden the NHS or worried for their safety

Dr Ferguson added: “The NHS has worked hard to make sure people can get cancer checks and treatment safely. We are still treating cancer patients, so if you are asked to attend the hospital please come alone to reduce the risks to our patients and our teams.

“If you or a member of your family are aware of any unexplained changes to your body, such as the sudden appearance of a lump, blood in your urine or a change to normal bowel habits then I would ask you to contact your GP so this can be investigated. Symptoms like these can be caused by non-cancerous illness but it is important to get these checked, as early cancer diagnose can save lives.”

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