5 April 2020
By Bryan Smyth
The Irish Cancer Society is concerned that people are putting their lives at risk because of a reluctance to seek medical help if they notice cancer symptoms.
CEO of the Society, Averil Power, has urged everyone who is concerned about cancer to contact their GP as they normally would during the pandemic.
She said, “Our nurses have heard from a number of people who are concerned, or even embarrassed, about contacting their GP about potential cancer symptoms or other health worries because of the pressures the coronavirus is creating in the health system.
“Our message to everyone is really simple: please contact your GP if you are worried that you may be showing a sign or a symptom of cancer. Please don’t be afraid or embarrassed to do this – when it comes to cancer early detection is key.
“Both the Health Minister and the Chief Medical Officer have made it clear that during the coronavirus the health system is there for people who need care for any reason.
“GPs, and in an emergency situation hospital Emergency Departments, are available to care for people when they are unwell. Cancer will not stop during coronavirus and it is so important that people continue to be aware of the signs and symptoms and act on any concerns they have.
“If you notice any unexplained, persistent or unusual changes in how your body works, such as a lump, a pain that doesn’t go away, unexpected weight loss or unexplained bleeding, call your doctor.
“Chances are it won’t be cancer, but if it is, the sooner it is detected, the better your chance of survival. Timing is key”, she concluded.
Dr. Denis McCauley, Chair of the Irish Medical Organisation’s GP Committee said, “GP surgeries are open for all patients. Covid-19 may be taking the headlines but normal pathologies must not be ignored. If you are suffering from or worried about any health issues, contact your GP. As with any pathology, early detection of cancer is vital. If you have any symptoms, please phone your GP immediately.”
The Irish Cancer Society’s Cancer Nurseline is also open seven days a week for anyone worried by cancer who would like to speak with a Cancer Nurse. You can call Freephone 1800 200 700 or log on to www.cancer.ie
Facts & Figures
Overall 15% or 3 in every 20 cancers during 2010-2014 were diagnosed via emergency presentation including pancreas (34%), lung (26%), ovary (24%), colon (22%), lymphoma (17%) and oesophagus (17%). NCRI report commissioned by the Irish Cancer Society published December 2017
There are more than 200 different types of cancer, each with different symptoms. Many of the possible symptoms of cancer can also be caused by other, much less serious, things. Key symptoms include: