The numbers of people contacting their GP with suspected cancer symptoms dropped dramatically during the Covid-19 pandemic. Although referral rates are steadily going up, people with lung cancer symptoms are not coming forward.
Dr Stewart Findlay, chief officer, NHS County Durham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said, ‘The symptoms of lung cancer are a persistent cough, coughing up blood, persistent breathlessness, unexplained tiredness and weight loss, an ache or pain when breathing or coughing.
‘The symptoms of coronavirus are a high temperature, a new continuous cough and a loss of your normal sense of taste or smell. You can see the symptoms are similar and we want to offer clear advice to people about what to do.’
If people are concerned about lung cancer because they have symptoms, they should contact their GP. They will speak to you on the phone or ask you to attend an appointment at the surgery if necessary.
Your doctor may arrange for you to have a nose or throat swab test to check if your symptoms are related to COVID-19. If the test is negative, and they think that your ongoing symptoms need to be investigated, they may refer you for further tests.
Whilst waiting for your test and if your test is positive you will need to follow guidance to self-isolate. With a positive test if after 10 days, you still have a temperature you should continue to self-isolate and seek medical advice. If after recovery from Covid, you have symptoms of lung cancer, a persistent cough, coughing up blood, persistent breathlessness, unexplained tiredness and weight loss, an ache or pain when breathing or coughing, contact your GP.
Cancer services are, where possible, returning to normal in many areas with“COVID-19 free” sites or areas for treatment and care services to enable those services to be provided and to reduce risk of infection. Safety is a high priority, and decisions about the timing and location of tests, assessments and treatment will be made while weighing up possible risk from COVID-19.