People with suspected cancer symptoms are being urged to not delay seeking advice and treatment because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Doctors at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board have made the plea after GP surgeries reported a significant reduction in the number of people presenting with symptoms associated with the disease since the pandemic was declared.
This has led to worries that the opportunity to provide successful early treatment could be lost.
GPs in North Wales are urging people to not delay seeking advice and support if they are experiencing any suspected symptoms of cancer.
They have also provided reassurance to people across North Wales that their practices continue to be open.
Although Public Health Wales have temporarily paused some of the population based screening programmes, people with symptoms that they are concerned about are still being encouraged to contact their GP.
Patients should continue to telephone their GP practice to seek assistance, with telephone, video and face to face consultations available.
Dr Jenny Liddell, a BCUHB Macmillan GP based at Corwen Health Centre, Denbighshire, said:
“We recognise that many people are understandably very anxious and don’t want to put additional pressure on healthcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“However, it’s important that people who are experiencing problems with their health, particularly those with persisting worrying symptoms that could be linked to cancer, don’t delay contacting their GP.
“We are urging people who have noticed any unusual or unexplained changes in their body to contact their GP. These changes are usually caused by something far less serious than cancer, but they could be a sign of the disease.
“We want people to know that they are not wasting their GP’s time by getting their symptoms checked.
“Spotting cancer early means treatment is much more likely to be successful.”
The Health Board would also like to reassure patients that measures have been introduced to ensure that assessment and treatment can be provided safely in GP surgeries and in hospitals across the region.
Dr Elaine Hampton, BCUHB Macmillan GP based at Cambria Surgery in Holyhead on Ynys Môn said:
“We know that this is a very anxious time for our patients and we want them to know that we have put measures in place to ensure that they can be safely assessed and provided with the treatment they need.
“This includes providing video consultations for the convenience and safety of patients, while face to face consultations are also still possible, where needed.
“We have also established separate Local Assessment Centres across the region to provide assessment for people displaying the symptoms of COVID-19. This is helping to reduce the risk of infection in our GP surgeries.
“Dedicated COVID-19 free areas have been established within our hospitals, so patients can be treated safely.”
For further information on some of the signs and symptoms of cancer, please visit the Macmillan Cancer Support website.
For further information on Local Assessment Centres can be found here.