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24th May 2021

As lockdown lifts, don’t forget to book that check-up

As lockdown restrictions are being lifted, health services are turning their attention to addressing the backlog of patients awaiting non-COVID treatments. 

The same is true for check-ups and referrals from GPs for specialist consultations for suspected cancer.

Experts today warn that England is at risk of a cancer crisis replacing the COVID emergency because over 300,000 people have missed urgent checks since the start of the pandemic.

Official statistics show that, in the 12 months to the end of March 2021, 304,555 fewer patients were given an urgent referral to hospital by their family doctor.

Don’t ignore symptoms

Overall, nearly 40,000 fewer patients started treatment for cancer compared with the previous year – a drop of 12%.

Factors behind the sharply lower referrals include hospitals coping with an influx of COVID patients, patient reluctance to come forward and patients struggling to access GPs after surgeries discouraged patients from face-to-face appointments.

The statistics, disclosed by Cancer Research UK, have prompted the cancer charity to call on patients to persevere in seeing their GP if they have any concern about possible cancer symptoms

Cancer Research UK Chief Executive Michelle Mitchell tells The Daily Telegraph: Sadly, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on cancer services, and the lives of cancer patients, over the past year.

“It’s not only those who’ve had a cancer diagnosis that we’re worried about – there are thousands of missing cancer patients out there, many of whom would ordinarily have been diagnosed through an urgent referral but haven’t been because of the pandemic. Finding the missing cancer patients is a priority.

“It’s vitally important that anyone who has noticed an unusual change in their body gets in touch with their GP. And if it’s tricky getting an appointment, do keep trying.”

Confidence in visiting hospitals and clinics

People can feel fully confident about visiting hospitals and clinics because of the COVID-secure protection procedures that have been put in place.

However delaying treatments and check-ups carry considerable risks because the earlier a serious condition is caught, the more likely there will be a successful outcome.

This also means that the condition can be treated with fewer adverse effects, helping the patient to maintain full quality of life.

Power of science

One thing the pandemic has shown us is the power of science. The vaccination programme has been a resounding success after researchers and scientists developed and tested the inoculation jabs in record time.

We are still of course learning more about the COVID virus.

My attention was drawn recently to a case in Cornwall in which a 61 year-old man with a rare form of blood cancer made a remarkable recovery after catching COVID.

It is believed that the virus sparked an anti-immune response. Sudden remission from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is possible but extremely rare. The medical team treating the man believe that T-cells which fight infection in the body may have also attacked cancer cells.

Don’t leave things to chance

While this is an uplifting story, as a medical professional I would say it is best not to leave things to chance.

Science can be relied on and is effective, so if you have been waiting and wondering about when to book that check-up or follow-up on an appointment, do not hesitate. Do it now to give yourself the best possible chance of a positive outcome.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me or my team if you have any questions or concerns about attending for an appointment.

For the Harley Street Clinic, please contact Stacey Holloway, Senior Medical Secretary, on 0207 299 0093 or email: Stacey.holloway@hcahealthcare.co.uk

You can contact me at The Royal Marsden Hospital via my Secretary Sylvia Young on Tel: 0207 808 2586, or email  Medsecchelsea.Nutting@rmh.nhs.uk

 

 

For more information about Prof Nutting's work please visit the CV page, get in touch or arrange a consultation.