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If you notice any possible cancer symptoms or any changes that are unusual for you, contact your doctor because early cancer diagnosis saves lives. Due to coronavirus fewer people are contacting their doctor. Your local surgery is ready to help you safely. They can talk to you by phone or video link and can arrange for tests. Whatever happens, tell your doctor if your symptoms get worse or don’t get better. Early diagnosis saves lives. Contact your GP now or go to CRUK.org/coronavirus for more information.
Contacting your GP
The coronavirus outbreak means that GPs are talking to people on the phone or online. This is to reduce the risk of coronavirus to them and their patients. When you speak to them, they will ask about your symptoms and tell you if you need to go into the surgery to see a GP.
They may suggest that you keep an eye on your symptoms and arrange another appointment to check in with them after a certain amount of time. Make sure you know when and how to contact them. And contact them again if your symptoms get worse or don’t get better.
Getting the most out of your telephone appointment
When you speak to the doctor, it can be difficult to remember everything you want to say especially on the phone. These tips will help you get the most out of your appointment.
- Find a quiet part of the house to take the call – your doctor will hopefully give you an idea of what time of day they will call you.
- Ask someone to listen in for support - they could also ask questions and help you remember what the doctor says
- Before the call write down your symptoms including when they started, when they happen and how often you have them.
- Write down if anything makes them worse or better.
- Tell them if you are worried about cancer in particular.
- Tell them if you have any family history of cancer.
- Ask them to explain anything you don’t understand.
Questions you might want to ask your GP
- Do I need to see a specialist? Is it urgent?
- When will I see them?
- Where will I see them?
- Will I find out about my appointments by post or telephone?
- Do I need tests? What will they involve?
- How long should I expect to wait?
- Where can I find out more about tests?
- Do I have to do anything in to prepare for this test? When will I get the results and who will tell me?
- When will I get the results and who will tell me?
Your GP might not be able to answer all of your questions. They will tell you what they can at this point. Not knowing is difficult to cope with and can make you anxious.
Seeing a specialist and having cancer tests
GPs can still make urgent referrals to specialists or for tests if they’re worried you might have cancer. The hospital should contact you to tell you more about your appointment. Your first appointment might be a telephone appointment with the specialist doctor.
Hospital teams might need to prioritise tests and appointments so they can see those most in need. They will base any decisions on the symptoms people have and the risk of them being cancer. They will talk to you about the possible risks of delaying a test until the risks of COVID-19 are over.
If you need to wait to have tests your team will put you on a list to make sure you do have the test when it is possible.
If they don't think you need any tests or a referral or they want to delay it
Questions you might want to ask:
- Can you explain why I don’t need to have tests or see a specialist?
- Is there anything I can do to help myself?
- Do I need to see you again?
- Who do I contact if my symptoms continue or get worse, especially during the night or at weekends?