We understand many people are anxious about the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on their ability to access treatment and care.
If you have any signs or symptoms of cancer, you may be worried about whether you will be able to see a GP or a specialist and get any tests you need. You may also be worried about whether it is safe to do so. Please do still contact your GP straight away. If you do have cancer, this will help you to get a diagnosis as soon as possible.
Cancer teams throughout the UK are doing their best to maintain services. They want to ensure that cancer diagnosis, treatment and care continues as much as possible.
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Here’s how to safely contact your GP and Primary Care Team, and what might happen next.
- If you notice any signs or symptoms that you’re worried might be cancer, you should get in touch with your GP by phone to arrange an appointment. While coronavirus (COVID-19) is a concern, it is still important to talk to your GP about any worries you may have about cancer.
- The team at your GP Practice may not be able to arrange for you to see a GP or Practice Nurse face-to-face. But they should give you another option such as a phone or video consultation.
- In some circumstances you may need to see a professional face-to-face. In this case, the team will tell you and will arrange for you to be examined safely in person.
In the current situation, your Practice team may contact the hospital by phone and arrange for some tests for you. You will be given information about where to go for your tests and what is involved.
Your Practice team will contact you again by phone once they have the results. This will minimise the risk of infection.
After the first phone or video consultation, your GP or nurse may advise keeping an eye on potential signs and symptoms for a specific period of time before having a second call or video. They will tell you how long this will be. This is to help reduce the possible risk of infection from referring you to a hospital. But it is important to let your doctor know if your symptoms get worse or do not get better.
You might need to wait a little longer than usual for an initial conversation or to receive tests and/or results. This is because your Practice team will be much busier than usual.
If you are referred on an ‘urgent suspected cancer’ pathway your first appointment with a specialist may also happen over the phone or by video consultation. This is to minimise the risk of infection.
Your specialist team may then discuss the best way to arrange follow-up for you while minimising any unnecessary risk of infection.
Sometimes the team you have been referred to may feel it is safer for you to not have any tests at the moment. They will discuss this with you and will arrange for you to have follow-up after a specific period of time. They will tell you how long this will be. It is important to tell your GP or your hospital team if your symptoms get worse or you develop new symptoms.