Cancer

New campaign launches in NW London called ‘Cancer Won’t Wait’

We have launched a new campaign across North West London called ‘Cancer won’t wait’.

Since the start of the pandemic the number of people taking up screening appointments and attending their referral appointments has markedly dropped.

We are asking people to come forward for screening when invited and to speak to their GP if they notice any unusual changes in their body without delay.

Dr Abhijit Singh Gill, Hammersmith and Fulham GP and Cancer Lead for NHS NW London Clinical Commissioning Group explains “Coronavirus has of course been a huge health concern for everyone this past year, and we have noticed that people are less likely to present to their GP with health concerns.  When it comes to cancer, it is important that people come to us early, so every effort is made to help them as quickly as possible".

“GPs are very busy but we are not too busy for our patients. If you have noticed something about your body that’s not normal for you, or are worried about any symptoms, please speak to your GP. Please also take up that screening”

Whether you or a loved one has a routine appointment, or a potential cancer symptom, our message is clear – you are not a burden, we are here to safely care for you so please don't delay, come forward as you usually would. Cancer won’t wait and we can see you safely”.

NHS staff have pulled out all the stops to keep cancer services going throughout the pandemic.

With thanks to staff at West Middlesex Hospital who have supported the campaign, featuring on posters, videos and social media.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What screening is available?

  • Cervical screening
  • Breast screening
  • Bowel cancer screening

When are you invited for screening?

Cervical screening is offered to women aged 25 to 64 to check the health of cells in the cervix. It is offered every 3 years for those aged 26 to 49, and every 5 years from the ages of 50 to 64.

Breast screening is offered to women aged 50 to 70 to detect early signs of breast cancer. Women over 70 can self-refer.

Bowel cancer screening everyone aged 60 to 74 is offered a bowel cancer screening home test kit every 2 years.

If you're 75 or over, you can ask for a kit every 2 years by phoning the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.

If I miss the appointment or do not remember, will they remind me again?

Bowel - If you're worried about a family history of bowel cancer or have any symptoms, speak to a GP for advice. You can also ask for the home test kit every 2 years by phoning the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60. More information here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bowel-cancer-screening/

Cervical – Cervical screening is taking place contact your GP surgery online or by phone if you think you are due to have cervical screening but have not been sent an invite.

Breast - Breast screening is taking place, if you think you are due to have cervical screening but have not been sent an invite please call your nearest breast screening service and by visiting https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/other-services/Breast-screening-services/LocationSearch/325

How will they notify me of the result and when?

Cervical screening

Your cervical screening results are usually sent to you in a letter. Sometimes you may be asked to call your GP to get the results.

The nurse or doctor who does your cervical screening will tell you when you can expect your results letter.

If you have waited longer than you expected, call your GP surgery to see if they have any updates.

Breast screening

You'll receive a letter with your breast screening results within 2 weeks of your appointment. The results will also be sent to your GP.

Bowel cancer screening

Your result should be posted to you within 2 weeks of sending off your kit.

When do I see my GP if I have noticed a change in my body?

Changes to your body's normal processes or unusual, unexplained symptoms can sometimes be an early sign of cancer.

Symptoms that need to be checked by a doctor include:

•           a lump that suddenly appears on your body

•           unexplained bleeding

•           changes to your bowel habits

But in many cases your symptoms will not be related to cancer and will be caused by other, non-cancerous health conditions.

Will I have the option of seeing my doctor face to face?

Yes, all GP practices in NW London are offering face to face appointments but in the interest of patient and staff safety you may have a telephone call with your GP first who will then decide what steps are needed. If you need a face to face appointment you will be invited in to your practice..

I know GPs are busy I don’t want to bother my GP should I wait to see if my symptoms get worse?

No, the NHS may be busy but your health is important to us and we are here and ready to see you safely. Please speak to your GP right away if you have noticed something that is not normal for you.

Early diagnosis in cancer is crucial.

So whether you or a loved one has a routine appointment, or a potential cancer symptom, our message is clear – you are not a burden, we are here to safely care for you so please don't delay, come forward as you usually would. Cancer won’t wait and we can see you safely.

Could the tests be delayed due to the coronavirus?

No, NHS staff have been working hard to keep these services going throughout the pandemic, so please do attend when invited for an appointment for any tests.

If during the tests I have any questions, can I call my GP?

The NHS is here to support you. Hospital teams will often receive the results to tests that they have ordered, and will communicate these to you as soon as possible. Your GP is available to support you through any worries or questions that you may have.

Is it safe to visit NHS premises? I’m worried about attending an appointment.

The NHS puts safety first above anything else and we have worked really hard to put lots of measures in place to protect our patients and our staff, and stop the spread.

These measures mean that people who do not have Covid can also safely access services.

If something is detected and I need further tests, should I still have the vaccine?

We encourage safe administration of the COVID vaccination. A diagnosis of cancer does not mean that you cannot have the vaccine. If you have any worries, please speak to your GP.