This has been a challenging year. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live, work and play. Each one of us has been affected by the virus differently - directly or indirectly - but the pandemic has drawn attention to the importance of good health and wellbeing for everyone.
Despite the Government's request for people to stay home if they are unwell and keep our distance, seeking medical advice is an important exception. Many health services including General Practice are actually seeing fewer patients than usual. According to a recent Cancer Council WA survey, many people are choosing to stay away from health services due to fear of catching COVID -19; belief their health concern is not urgent; and belief that health professionals are too busy dealing with COVID-19.
But it is essential that you continue to seek medical advice when needed - it is safe to do so.
Seeking medical advice when it is needed is vital, because if you don't, you may be ignoring symptoms of cancer or putting off your cancer screening when it's due. Either way, this can mean cancer is found later that it might otherwise have been.
Please make the time to do screening tests
Cancer screening helps to protect your health, and all three national cancer screening programs are operating as usual. The national bowel, breast and cervical screening programs involve simple tests that look for early signs of cancer before it has developed or before you have symptoms. In most cases, early detection of cancer increases the chances of successful treatment. If you are invited to participate in a screening program, don't delay. Make the time to do the test.
Seek medical advice if you experience symptoms
It is easy to make excuses to delay or avoid seeking medical advice, despite experiencing symptoms. This is a concern at any time, but COVID-19 has added to people's reluctance to visit health services. There is never a good time to ignore symptoms. Your General Practitioner (GP) is a phone call away. Call them to book an appointment and speak to them face to face, or book an appointment via the Telehealth service. Many appointments can be bulk billed through Telehealth, and your GP can still refer you for further testing if it is needed.
Stay in touch with your specialist
If you are currently under the care of an oncology specialist, please stay in touch. If you have concerns or questions about your treatment or care, it is best to contact your specialist by phone and ask for advice. Many health services are offering Telehealth appointments, via phone or video calls. It is essential that you or your loved ones continue attending oncology appointments for further investigations or treatment.
If you or someone you love has cancer and you have concerns, questions or would just like to speak with someone who understands, please call Cancer Council WA on 13 11 20 to speak to one of our cancer nurses.
Cancer Council WA is continuing to work with our community to reduce the incidence and impact of cancer but we need you to do your part. Prioritise your health, do the test, make the call.
Together we can continue our journey to a cancer free future.