If you have cancer, you probably have questions about how it will affect your cancer treatment, care or medical appointments. We’ve answered some of the main ones here. If you need more info, you can always speak to your GP or clinical team.

What if I have a medical appointment during the coronavirus outbreak?

If you have a scheduled hospital or other medical appointment, talk to your clinical team. In general, you should go to medical appointments if you’ve been asked to go. Your team will be able to give you information on any preparation you need to do before you go to the hospital.

Will my cancer treatment be delayed because of coronavirus?

The NHS is working to restore and recover NHS services so that they start to operate as they did before the pandemic.

This means that cancer diagnosis, treatment and care are still happening, and the NHS is working to make sure that these services return to working as they did before.

Will my cancer care be different during coronavirus?

Your clinical team are there to keep you safe. They will tell you about any changes to your care, treatment or timings of your hospital visits. And if you’re ever not sure about something, just ask.

How cancer care is given to patients might be different to how it was before coronavirus, or on a different time scale. Changes are being made to the way services are delivered to keep patients and staff safe and make sure cancer care is delivered.

For example:

  • COVID-protected hubs (treatment centres where patients are screened for coronavirus and isolated before treatment) have been set up across the country to make sure that cancer treatment continues. That means you might need to take a coronavirus test before going into hospital for certain treatment. You’ll be told if you need to take a test, and how to do that.
  • The hubs help hospitals across the NHS and private hospitals to work together to see as many people as possible and make sure that people get the treatment they need. Some patients might start to see their treatment move to a different hospital as these hubs are set up.  You will stay under the care of your treating hospital and clinical specialist team and should contact them with any questions about your treatment and care.
  • Most hospitals have started to use more telephone appointments as a way of helping people avoid long waits in clinics and for treatment. You might be called to arrange your treatments in this way, and planned treatments may need to be moved to help run a smooth service.
  • Some patients might have their chemotherapy at home or have fewer radiotherapy appointments, to reduce visits to hospital while continuing with their treatment.
  • For some people, it may be safer to delay surgery. Your doctor might suggest a different treatment in the meantime, such as chemotherapy or hormonal therapy.
  • You’ll notice that all the health professionals who treat you will be wearing more PPE like face masks, shields, gowns and gloves. That’s to keep you and them safe. You might have to wear a mask during your treatment – you’ll be told if so.
  • All hospitals that are treating patients with coronavirus are also making sure they stay separate from patients who do not have the virus. For example, there might be separate entrances for coronavirus and non-coronavirus patients.

I am on chemotherapy. If I experience sweats/ cough/ shivering should I call NHS 111 or the chemotherapy care line?

You should call the chemotherapy care line, if you have access to one. If the chemotherapy care line is not available in your area, please speak to your clinical team about who you should call in this situation.

How will coronavirus affect clinical trials?

You should contact your clinical team with questions about your individual treatment including any trials you are part of.

The National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) has written guidance on clinical trials.

They see a need to prioritise research on coronavirus itself, and that many clinical research teams will be asked to work on this to help with providing patient care.

Are cancer patients being offered the flu jab this winter?

More people are being offered the flu vaccine this winter. This is to help protect vulnerable people and to reduce the strain on the NHS.

The expanded list of people who will be offered a free flu vaccine will include people who are on the shielding list from coronavirus.

Check your local government guidance to see if you are eligible for a free flu jab in your part of the UK. If you think you should be eligible for a free flu vaccine because you’re a young person with cancer, chat with your GP or clinical team.

If you’re not offered a free flu vaccine, you may also be able to pay for it via your GP or local pharmacy.

When will young people with cancer be offered the coronavirus vaccine?

There are three coronavirus vaccines that have been approved for use for adults in the UK. Two of them are available currently, and the other will be available in the spring.

All vaccines approved for use in the UK have gone through rigorous trials and have been shown to be safe and very effective against severe illness from coronavirus. Vaccines are being given based on a priority list as recommended by Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization.

If you're under 16

Currently, none of the coronavirus vaccines are being offered to children under the age of 16. That’s because they weren’t tested on people in this age group, and because in general children of this age are less likely to become really unwell if they catch the virus.

Trials have started for testing all three approved vaccines in younger age groups, so that they can be offered it in the future.

If you’re under 16 and have been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, it’s important that you follow all the latest guidelines for staying safe.

If you're 16 or over

Currently, young people over the age of 16 who are clinically extremely vulnerable are in the 4th priority group. People over 16 who have an underlying medical condition (but aren’t clinically extremely vulnerable) are in the 6th priority group.

You will be contacted when you are being offered the vaccine. You do not need to request it or register for it.

If you are a young person with cancer but not in the clinically extremely vulnerable group your clinical team will be able to talk to you about when you are likely to be offered the vaccine.

Even if you have had both doses of the vaccine, you should continue to follow the latest guidance to keep you safe.

If you care for a young person with cancer

If you’re an unpaid carer for a young person with cancer, you may be eligible for a vaccine sooner. Unpaid carers are in group six for the vaccination roll out. Call your GP if you have any questions about when you might be called.

 

Find out more about the vaccination programme.

You might have specific questions about the vaccine, like what is best for you and your medical history. It’s a good idea to talk to your GP or medical team about this ahead of being called for your vaccine, so that you and the vaccination team are ready once you are.

How can I keep my friend or family member with cancer safe from coronavirus?

If you’re living with or spending time with a young person with cancer, you might be nervous about keeping them safe from coronavirus.

The main thing to do is make sure you follow all the current guidance for where you live to see if you can see them at all, and in what circumstances.

If you’re able to see them, always follow the guidance on things like socially distancing, washing your hands regularly for 20 seconds or more, and wearing a mask.

Always stay away from anyone if you have any coronavirus symptoms.

It’s also really helpful to ask the young person what you can do to make them feel more comfortable. That might be things like using hand sanitizer, only meeting online, or staying further away from each other than 2 metres and only meeting outside, depending on what’s allowed for where you live.

Everyone will feel differently, so it’s always best to talk to the young person and see what you can do to help them feel at ease.

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