Coronavirus (COVID-19)

For health information and advice, read the NHS website pages on coronavirus. Learn about the government response to coronavirus on GOV.UK.

Extremely vulnerable people can register and get further support by clicking here.

Cancer and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

If you have cancer, you might be worried about how coronavirus affects you. People with cancer may be at a higher risk of infection so the most important thing is to follow the advice from the NHS and your healthcare team.

The symptoms of coronavirus include:

  • a high temperature of above 37.8C and, or
  • a new continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

What do I do if I have symptoms?

Contact your cancer advice line, chemotherapy helpline or Acute Oncology Service if you have these symptoms and you are having cancer treatment or have cancer that affects your immune system.

If you have symptoms but you are not having cancer treatment, you can look at the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111 

People living with cancer now

People with cancer who are more at risk

Some people with cancer and those who have received or are receiving certain treatments are more at risk of becoming seriously ill if they contract the COVID-19 infection: These are:

  • people undergoing active chemotherapy;
  • 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 having intensive (radical) radiotherapy for lung cancer;
  • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs;
  • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment.

The government has updated its guidance for people who are shielding taking into account that COVID-19 disease levels are substantially lower now than when shielding was first introduced.

People who are shielding remain vulnerable and should continue to take precautions but can now leave their home if they wish, as long as they are able to maintain strict social distancing. 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, this should be the same person each time. If you do go out, you should take extra care to minimize contact with others by keeping 2 metres apart. This guidance will be kept under regular review

For more information click here

Other people with cancer or if you have had cancer in the past

If you are not in one of the above vulnerable groups, you should follow guidance for social distancing. The aim is to reduce your risk of catching and spreading the coronavirus.

Social distancing means reducing your social contact with other people. The guidance includes:

  • steps you can take to reduce your social interaction
  • importance of looking after your mental wellbeing and keeping in touch with others
  • advice for visitors and informal carers

After treatment for cancer, your immune system usually recovers over time. So if you’ve had cancer in the past, it is unlikely that you’re in the extremely vulnerable group if: 

  • it’s some time since you finished treatment 
  • you don’t have one of the other specific conditions listed on the government link above 
  • you haven’t received a letter 

Please remember that you might be in the extremely vulnerable group even if you aren’t on treatment and you have a cancer of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma.  

Contact your health care team if you are uncertain or you’re still concerned that you might be in the extremely vulnerable group.

Go to more information about social distancing

If you are unsure of your risk and what measures you should be taking, you should speak with your hospital specialist. If this is not possible, you should contact your GP.

Cancer treatment

What will happen to my cancer treatment?

For example:

  • Will it be postponed?
  • Should I still go to hospital appointments?
  • How will my hospital decide whether I am a priority for treatment? Will there be national rules?
  • If treatment, including stem cell transplants, are deferred and I begin to relapse will this limit my eligibility for future lines of treatment?
  • Should I start chemotherapy treatment (particularly if it is a 2nd/3rd line for “mop up” ) or postpone
  • As a stage 4 patient will I be given life support if I have breathing difficulties due to the virus?
  • If I get the virus and recover, will this affect my cancer treatment and outlook?

Clinicians will always make decisions to prioritise treatment for those most in need and in consultation with patients.

Many 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.

Your clinical team are best placed to talk with you about the effect on your treatment and appointments. They will work with you to determine the best course of action in each individual situation. If you have any concerns or questions about your treatment, please speak to your clinical team.

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 I need to 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. They will work with you to determine the best course of action in each individual situation.

There is guidance on staying at home if you or someone in your household think you have coronavirus, click here for more information.

Will there be problems accessing my cancer drugs?

There are currently no medicine shortages as a result of COVID-19. The country is well prepared to deal with any impacts of the coronavirus and we have stockpiles of generic drugs like paracetamol in the event of any supply issues.

The Department of Health and Social Care is working closely with industry, the NHS and others in the supply chain to ensure patients can access the medicines they need and precautions are in place to prevent future shortages.

Ask family, friends and neighbours to support you and use online services. If this is not possible, then the public sector, business, charities and the general public are gearing up to help those advised to stay at home. Please discuss your daily needs during this period of staying at home with carers, family, friends, neighbours or local community groups to see how they can support you. Please click here to register for the support that you need. This includes help with food, shopping deliveries and additional care you might need.

The government is helping pharmacies to deliver prescriptions. Prescriptions will continue to cover the same length of time as usual. If you do not currently have your prescriptions collected or delivered, you can arrange this by:

  1. Asking someone who can pick up your prescription from the local pharmacy (this is the best option, if possible).
  2. Contacting your pharmacy to ask them to help you find a volunteer (who will have been ID checked) or deliver it to you.

You may also need to arrange for collection or delivery of hospital specialist medication that is prescribed to you by your hospital care team.

If you receive support from health and social care organisations, for example, if you have care provided for you through the local authority or health care system, this will continue as normal. Your health or social care provider will be asked to take additional precautions to make sure that you are protected. The advice for formal carers is included in the home care provision.

Family/friends/carers of people living with cancer

I have been exposed to the virus and am a carer for someone with cancer. What should I do? Who will look after the person I care for if I am unable to?

The Government is currently advising that if you have symptoms and you live with a vulnerable person, you should try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.

If you provide essential care (such as help with washing, dressing, or preparing meals), you may find this guidance on Home care provision useful.

It is also a good idea to think about what happens if you become unwell. If you need help with care but you’re not sure who to contact, or if you do not have family or friends who can help, you can contact your local council who should be able to help you. Carers UK have also produced advice for those currently caring for others.

I am a carer to someone with cancer. Should I be doing anything differently?

If you provide essential care (such as help with washing, dressing, or preparing meals), you may find this guidance on Home care provision useful.

For people worried they have cancer

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

It is important you seek clinical advice if you have a worrying symptom. GPs can still make urgent referrals to specialists or for tests if they’re worried you might have cancer. Your GP surgery may offer you an online consultation, so you do not have to go to the surgery unnecessarily.

Please contact your GP surgery directly if you are worried about a possible cancer symptom. You can telephone or you can go to your surgery’s website and complete and submit an online form via e-Consult.

For more information about what to do if you have cancer symptoms you can visit Cancer Research UK –  https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/coronavirus/cancer-symptoms

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

Yes.  You have been given a Fast Track Referral, please read or print out this leaflet for information about the next steps. If you require the leaflet in a different format then please email: dcp@dorsetccg.nhs.uk

Additional cancer support

Please visit our useful resources page.

You can visit Cancer Research UK for more information or you can speak to the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone: 0808 800 4040, from 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Macmillan Support and Information

You can visit the Macmillan website which is a reliable and up to date source of information for people living with cancer.

Macmillan Support Line

If you have any concerns or worries you can contact the Macmillan support line on 0808 808 00 00, 7 days a week, 9am – 5pm

Support groups

Find your nearest support group by using the in your area search on Macmillan’s website www.macmillan.org.uk/in-your-area

Macmillan Information Services

Macmillan Information and Support Centre, Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth

The centre is closed but a telephone service is still operating and can help with information, emotional support as well as referrals to other local services.

T: 02392 283323

E: macmillancentre@porthosp.nhs.uk

Mon-Fri 10-4pm

Macmillan Information and Support Centre, University Hospitals Southampton

The cancer information and support service is closed but still is providing telephone information, support, counselling and signposting to local services/support groups.

T: 02381 206037

E: MacmillanCentre@uhs.nhs.uk

Mon-Fri 9am-5pm (not bank holidays)

Volunteering support

As part of the response to the Coronavirus pandemic, Macmillan have built on the existing good practice of local volunteer buddy schemes and are now offering a Telephone Buddying service to people living with cancer across the UK. This will see trained and supported Macmillan volunteers offering a weekly telephone chat service; providing a listening ear and low level emotional support, as well signposting to and other appropriate services.

Following this link will take you to the page on the Macmillan website where you can refer someone, or the link can be shared for people to self-refer. Anyone referred will have an initial conversation and assessment with a Macmillan member of staff, and will then be matched with a volunteer buddy. Experienced Macmillan volunteer managers will be supervising and supporting the buddies throughout the process, and service users will also have a named Macmillan member of staff to contact if necessary.

Benefits Advice Services

For help with money worries, the Macmillan benefits advice workers can help you.

Citizens Advice Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole.

Face to face services have been temporarily suspended however you can contact the service through the Advice Line (03444 111 444), or email advice via our website. You can also webchat through the National Citizens Advice website.

Citizens Advice Central Dorset

Face to face appointments and home visits have been suspended, however, are still offering telephone & email support. Please contact Dorset Adviceline: 0344 411 1444

Click on the links below for access to email advice:
Dorchester
North Dorset
Sherborne
Weymouth & Portland

Hampshire Macmillan Citizens Advice Service

Face to face appointments have been suspended in the current situation. Please contact the telephone helpline 0344 847 7727 Monday – Friday, 9am -4pm.

There is an answer machine for out of hours or if the lines are busy. Alternatively, you can email: macmillan.cahampshire@cabnet.org.uk

Macmillan Patient Grants

These are one off means tested payments to help with the extra costs that living with cancer can bring. The Macmillan Grants team are working hard to maintain this essential service for people living with cancer, so please tell and encourage Professionals to send applications through our online portal at www.macmillan.org.uk/grants-application or, where necessary, call our Assisted Digital Line on 01274 537 874 to help submit the application. The latter should be a last resort as there is a higher demand than usual for this service.

Contact us at macmillangrants@macmillan.org.uk with any queries.

Social media

For support and updates and tips on coping with isolation, follow Macmillan in Wessex by going to https://www.facebook.com/MacmillanSouthCentral