Cancer referrals drop 60pc during coronavirus outbreak, doctors warn
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Cancer referrals across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have dropped 60 pc since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, and anyone that could be showing early signs of the disease is urged to contact their GP.
Cancer referrals across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have dropped by 60pc since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, and doctors are urging those that could be showing early signs of the disease to contact their GP.
The NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) says the number of suspected cancer patients referred to hospitals from GP practices has declined steadily as a result of COVID-19.
Dr Oliver Stovin, a MacMillan GP and clinical lead for cancer at the CCG, said: “Cancer will not stop because of COVID-19, so it’s important patients don’t stop contacting their GPs about any potential cancer concerns either.
“Early diagnosis is a vital part of cancer treatment, dramatically improving a patient’s chance of survival.”
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As less people contact their GPs to discuss the potential early signs of cancer, it could potentially lead to patients being diagnosed at a later stage in the disease.
Early diagnosis is crucial in cancer treatment, as it drastically improves survival rates for many of the most common cancers.
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Studies show that more than nine out of 10 bowel cancer patients will survive the disease for more than five years if they are diagnosed at the earliest stage.
Also, over 90pc of women diagnosed with the earliest stage of breast cancer survive the disease for at least five years compared to around 15pc for women diagnosed with the most advanced stage.
The CCG’s cancer specialists are concerned that patients are not contacting their GPs to flag early signs because they are worried about putting the NHS under additional pressure during the pandemic.
They are also concerned about the risks of contracting COVID-19 from medical professionals.
But GPs and cancer doctors are initially assessing patients using video conferencing and telephone appointments, and then face-to-face slots are arranged for those that need them.
Dr Stovin added: “All GP practices and hospitals across our area are open for business, and they have taken measures to ensure that COVID-19 infection risks are minimised if you need to be seen face-to-face.
“So please don’t put your health at risk by putting off contacting your GP.”