THE HSE National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) is urging anyone with potential signs and symptoms of cancer to telephone their GP to check them out.
The number of patients being referred to cancer diagnostic services has decreased since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic which indicates that people with symptoms of cancer are delaying seeking medical advice.
However, GP and hospital diagnostic cancer services are continuing to operate. Services have been re-organised and precautionary measures taken to ensure surgeries and hospital environments are safe for patients. All healthcare staff have been trained and equipped to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The average number of patients with suspected breast, lung, prostate and skin cancer being referred weekly to hospital clinics has dropped to less than half of that prior to the announcement of Covid-19 public health measures. These are patients who are referred electronically by their GPs.
While there has been a slight increase in the number of people being referred in this past week, the NCCP is concerned that people with signs and symptoms of cancer are not contacting their GPs as they may be fearful of attending healthcare services.
Early diagnosis can improve cancer outcomes. The NCCP is advising the public to telephone their GP if they notice any of the following: a new lump or bump, changing lump or bump, abnormal bleeding, changes on your skin, unexpected weight loss, they are constantly tired.
UL Hospitals Group Consultant Haematologist Dr Denis O’Keeffe said: “The pandemic has understandably caused considerable anxiety among the population at large but we would like to reassure patients that our hospital diagnostic services continue to accept referrals and that they are safe to attend.
“Many weeks of planning went into ensuring essential services remained open and these plans are now in operation. Hospital services have been reconfigured to stream non-COVID patients from confirmed or query COVID patients to minimise the risk of transmission. These patients are assessed and treated in separate areas. We continue to diagnose and treat new cancers and we are encouraging anybody who has a concern to contact their GP and seek advice at the earliest opportunity.”