Covid-19 updates

Covid-19 advice for sarcoma patients

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) and have not received an invitation to have your Covid19 vaccine, you can book an appointment directly through the NHS website now.


If you have any questions relating to Covid-19, the Sarcoma UK Support Line is here to help:

 

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Government Advice

The Government is advising everybody to:

  • Stay alert
  • Stay at home as much as possible
  • Work from home if you can
  • Limit contact with other people
  • Keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
  • Wash your hands regularly

Do not leave home if you or anyone in the household has symptoms of coronavirus.

First of all, please read the wider Government guidance on:


Please read the Government advice for where you live:

The Government have a wide range of information to help people at this time, including on employment, financial support, and childcare: gov.uk/coronavirus

 

Update on shielding advice for the clinically extremely vulnerable (April 2021)

 

Advice to the clinically extremely vulnerable to shield stops from Thursday 1 April, as virus infection rates continue to fall.

People on shielded patient list will start to receive letters from 18 March with updated guidance on steps people can take to reduce their risk of catching the virus, including continuing to maintain strict social distancing and to keep their overall social contacts at low levels, such as working from home where possible.

With the success of the UK’s COVID-19 vaccination programme, more than 9 in 10 clinically extremely vulnerable people are now vaccinated with their first dose, but it’s still important people continue to follow the national rules and take the extra precautions set out in the guidance to keep themselves as protected as possible. Local councils and supermarkets will continue to provide support for those shielding until 31 March. If people have already registered for priority access to supermarket delivery slots, they will continue to be able to access these until 21 June 2021.

People are still advised to continue working from home where possible, but if people are unable to do so, employers are required by law to take steps to make workplaces COVID-19 secure and should talk to their employees about this.

 

Vaccinations

  • Vaccines are the way out of this pandemic. Vaccines are the best way to protect people from coronavirus and will save thousands of lives. It is essential that everyone continues to stay at home if possible whether they have had the vaccine or not, to protect the NHS and save lives.
  • An effective vaccine is one that saves lives and reduces hospitalisations. New research shows that both the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines are highly effective in reducing COVID-19 infections among older people aged 70 years and over. In the over 80s, data suggest that a single dose of either vaccine is more than 80% effective at preventing hospitalisation, around 3 to 4 weeks after the jab.
  • All those aged over 50 years and those who are clinically vulnerable against COVID-19 are now being invited to book their vaccination, with a choice between attending a vaccination centre or pharmacy service.
  • This includes people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality, and people who receive a carer’s allowance, or those who are the sole or primary carer of an elderly or disabled person who is at increased risk of COVID-19 mortality and therefore clinically vulnerable. Information about whether your condition is eligible is found on your medical record, which your GP will review. 
  • Your doctor or GP can also add you to the list, based on their clinical judgement, if they consider you to be at very high risk of serious illness from COVID-19.
  • Anyone aged 50 or over and carers who have not yet had their vaccines are asked to call the national booking service (call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week) or go online and arrange their appointment at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/

 

Update 29 March 2021

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has advised the government to prioritise people for the coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine who are over 16 and living with adults who have weakened immune systems, such as those with blood cancer, HIV or those on immunosuppresive treatment including chemotherapy.

If you are having chemotherapy, talk to your treatment team to see if your treatment fits into this area. If it does, you or your family member should get in contact with your/their GP.

 

Cancer services during recovery from COVID-19

 

The NHS is now aiming to return cancer services to how they were before the pandemic. If you need to access care or treatment for suspected or diagnosed cancer, arrangements have been put in place to keep you safe from COVID-19.

If you have a worrying symptom, and you think it might be cancer, please contact your GP surgery straight away.  GP surgeries are offering online consultations and/or remote triage so that people do not have to attend in person if they don’t have to.

If you have been asked to go to hospital for further investigation or for treatment if you are diagnosed with cancer, it is important that you attend. The NHS is changing the way that it delivers services to keep you safe:

  • COVID protected hubs have been set up for cancer surgery across the country.
  • Wider measures are also being taken by all hospitals treating COVID patients to make sure that COVID and non-COVID patients are kept separate.   
  • All patients can support NHS staff by being aware of any symptoms they or their family may have, and by following the advice of the clinical teams working with them. If a patient is not sure if they should come into the hospital, they should talk to their clinical team.

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For people worried they have cancer



I am worried that I have symptoms of cancer. Should I still go to my GP?
 

Yes. GP surgeries have been told to offer online consultations and remote triage so that people do not have to attend in person if they don’t have to. Please do contact your GP surgery directly if you are worried about a possible cancer symptom. For example, if you have any of the following symptoms and you can’t think of a reason for this:

  • Bleeding that doesn’t come from an obvious injury
  • A lump
  • Weight loss
  • Or any type of pain that won’t go away.

You can find a fuller list of the symptoms to look out for on the Be Clear on Cancer website.
 


I have just been referred by my GP with suspected cancer. Should I attend my diagnostic appointment? 

It is important that you attend. The NHS is changing the way that cancer diagnosis is delivered so that you can have diagnostic tests in places protected from the coronavirus. This means that you may be asked to self-isolate for seven days before any diagnostic procedures, even if you do not have coronavirus symptoms. You should talk to the clinical team at the hospital if you have any concerns about attending. 

Most people who go to their GP with symptoms do not have cancer. However, if you do have cancer, earlier diagnosis can mean more effective treatment and improved chances of survival.   

If you have been asked to attend hospital, the only reason you should not go is if you have any symptoms of coronavirus.  If you do, you should tell the hospital, cancel your appointment and self-isolate. The clinical team will talk to you about when you your next appointment can happen.

 

People living with cancer now



Do I need to do anything differently as someone who is being treated/in remission from cancer/living with chronic cancer?

People with certain cancers and those who have had or are having certain treatments are at risk of severe illness if they catch coronavirus (Covid-19). This includes:

  • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
  • people with cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
  • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
  • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
  • people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
  • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs

The Government updated their guidance for these people on 18 March and advises them to continue to take precautions in order to keep themselves safe:

  • If you wish to spend time outdoors (though not in other buildings, households, or enclosed spaces) you should take extra care to minimise contact with others by keeping 2 metres apart.
  • If you choose to spend time outdoors, this can be with members of your own household. If you live alone, you can spend time outdoors with one person from another household (ideally the same person each time).
  • You should stay alert when leaving home: washing your hands regularly, maintaining social distance and avoiding gatherings of any size.
  • You should not attend any gatherings, including gatherings of friends and families in private spaces, for example, parties, weddings and religious services.
  • You should strictly avoid contact with anyone who is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 (a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of, or change in, your sense of taste or smell).

The NHS has written to people in these groups with advice and information about what to do during this time, and where to access support. 

If you are affected and have a hospital or another medical appointment during this time, talk to your clinical team to make sure you carry on getting the care you need and to find out which of these you still need to attend.



What will happen to my cancer treatment?

The NHS is currently moving into the next phase of its response to the COVID-19 outbreak, aiming to return to NHS services as they were before the pandemic. This means that cancer diagnosis, treatment and care are continuing.

Changes are being made to the way services are delivered to keep patients and staff safe. For example:

  • COVID-protected hubs have been set up across the country to make sure that cancer treatment continues.  Your treatment may move to a different hospital as these hubs are set up.  You will remain 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 consultations as a way of helping people to avoid long waits in clinics and for treatment. You may be called to arrange your treatments in this way, and planned treatments may need to be moved to help with running a smooth service. 
  • Some patients may 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 and your doctor may suggest a different treatment in the meantime.
     

Wider measures are also being taken. There may be separate entrances for COVID and non-COVID patients. All patients admitted to hospital as an emergency will be tested for COVID. Patients going into hospital for surgery or another elective procedure will be asked to isolate for 14 days and be offered a COVID test wherever possible.

Please speak to your clinical team who will be able to talk with you about your treatment and appointments and answer any questions you have.

 

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 this is not available in your area, talk to your clinical team about who you should call.



If I need to shield/self-isolate for more than seven days, what will happen in relation to treatment that has to be done weekly?

Your clinical team are best placed to talk with you about the effect on your treatment and appointments. 

 

How can I maintain my mental health during this time?

Simple things you can do to stay mentally and physically active during this time include:

  • look for ideas for exercises to do at home on the NHS website
  • spend time doing things you enjoy – reading, cooking and other indoor hobbies
  • try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water, exercise regularly, and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs
  • try spending time with the windows open to let in fresh air, arranging space to sit and see a nice view and get some natural sunlight. Get out into the garden or sit on your doorstep if you can, keeping a distance of at least 2 metres from others.

You can find further advice and support from Every Mind Matters and the NHS mental health and wellbeing advice website.



Will my clinical trial continue? / Why has my trial been stopped?

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

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has now published a framework to support work towards continuing the research that they fund and/or support.

 


People who have had cancer in the past

 

Does having had cancer treatment in the past, for example, stem cell transplants, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, even if I am now in remission, increase my risk if I get the virus? 

This depends on the type of cancer and the treatment you have had. Most people make a full recovery after cancer treatment and their immune system either recovers fully or is not affected.

 

Family/friends/carers of people living with cancer



Please refer to the wider Government advice to protect yourselves and family/friends: