Professor Peter Johnson, England’s top cancer doctor, has urged people not to hesitate to get checked for cancer as new research revealed that nearly half of the public have concerns about seeking help during the coronavirus pandemic.
The survey found that 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, and a third of people would worry about seeking help. People are worried about getting coronavirus or passing it on to their family. They also don’t want to be a burden to the health service during this time of national emergency.
However, NHS staff have worked hard to make sure people can get cancer checks and treatment safely – there is no need to put off going to the GP. Delaying help could have serious consequences for patients and put a greater burden on the NHS, Prof Johnson said.
Most GPs are offering online consultations and people do not necessarily need to go to GP surgeries for check-ups. There are COVID-free cancer hubs to provide surgery, and some private hospitals are offering services through an unprecedented deal with the NHS. There are virus-protected hubs in 19 areas of the country where people can have their operation safely; thousands of patients have already received treatment through one of these hubs.
The NHS launched the Help Us Help You campaign last week to encourage people to contact their GP or NHS 111 if they have urgent care needs and to attend hospital if they are told they should. Early detection of cancer saves lives, so people still need to go to their GP to get checked if they are worried about any symptoms.