Don’t wait. Contact your doctor. Get checked.
COVID-19 has given us a “new normal”, from face masks to hand sanitiser and social distancing, it has also profoundly affected healthcare.
In Australia, we have seen a significant drop in cancer screening, pathology and surgery1. Job insecurity and financial concerns2 along with fear and anxiety around contracting coronavirus3 has resulted in many Australians deferring medical attention for new symptoms or attending routine follow-up appointments.
As a collective of patient organisations, we want to encourage people to contact their healthcare professional, get checked or re-book their missed medical appointments, to minimise the time between cancer diagnosis and treatment, from weeks to days.
As a collective of patient organisations, we want to encourage people to contact their healthcare professional, get checked or re-book their missed medical appointments.
BOWEL CANCER AUSTRALIA
“Delays in diagnosis and treatment resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have serious implications for bowel cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
At the height of the pandemic there was a massive drop in colonoscopies by 57%. Research shows a delay in cancer treatment by as few as four weeks may be sufficient to increase the risk of death by about 10%.
So now is the time to speak with your healthcare professional if you missed a medical appointment, received a positive test result, experienced new symptoms, or your treatment was adjusted, to ensure the best health outcomes possible.”
Julien Wiggins, CEO
GI CANCER INSTITUTE
“With Gastro-Intestinal (GI) cancers, even a few weeks delay in diagnosis can make a big difference for a patient’s survival odds. These devastating cancers including stomach, pancreatic and colorectal cancer, affect 28,600 Australians every year. GI cancers are hard to detect and often caught at a late stage which is why the decline in cancer screenings is so concerning. We urge you to please visit your doctor if you notice new symptoms or any changes.”
Russell Conley, CEO
“With more than 100 different types of blood cancer, the range of symptoms is complex and diverse. One of our greatest concerns is cases going undiagnosed in the community.
We know blood cancer is on the rise, so we expect these cases are out there.
For those living with blood cancer, we also fear they may not act on symptoms for fear of COVID exposure.
Our message is simple: know your body, listen to what it’s telling you and take the time to get unusual symptoms checked out.”
Alexandra Struthers, Acting CEO
LUNG FOUNDATION AUSTRALIA
“Symptoms of lung disease and lung cancer can be vague and people often put it down to signs of ageing or a lack of fitness. Early diagnosis is critical to receiving best-practice care and treatment. If you’re experiencing a persistent, unexplained cough or breathlessness, talk to your GP. If you have a diagnosis of lung disease or lung cancer, it’s really important you continue your regular treatment and care. Lung Foundation Australia has been funding life-changing research and delivering support services that give hope for more than 30 years. We will continue to be here every step of the way in this new normal.”
Mark Brooke, CEO
“Australians living with lymphoma can be immunocompromised and dealing with this pandemic has been harder for them than many. COVID-19 has compounded their experience, and for these patients, there is no doubt this has been incredibly stressful. Lymphoma Australia urges our cancer patients to remain vigilant but to continue to monitor your own health and stay on treatment. We will be with you every step of the way if you need us.”
Sharon Millman, CEO
OVARIAN CANCER AUSTRALIA
“As there is no early detection test for ovarian cancer, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms and to see your GP if you have any concerns. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant effect on the mental health and wellbeing of patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Calls to our Helpline have doubled. Our dedicated ovarian cancer nurses are here to support those affected by ovarian cancer who have questions or need reassurance.”
Jane Hill, CEO
“Our organisation has spent a decade advocating for the issues facing our community from equitable access to genetic testing, elective surgery reform to preventative health – we don’t want to see all our collective hard work evaporate. Please if you notice any symptoms see your doctor, if you are concerned or have questions reach out. We may be in this new normal but there is still the same cancer.”
Sarah Powell, CEO
PROSTATE CANCER FOUNDATION OF AUSTRALIA
“The world is facing a situation unlike anything we have seen in our lifetime. There is still much we don’t know about COVID-19 and the impact it will have on our communities. It is clear, however, that men living with prostate cancer and their families will be especially vulnerable to the effects of this pandemic. They need us now more than ever.”
Jeff Dunn, CEO
RARE CANCERS AUSTRALIA
“It’s vital that we work together, to reach out and educate people who have avoided testing or overlooked symptoms. Rare cancers are often missed and diagnosed too late. That’s why it’s so important to get tested. If you have worrying symptoms please get checked and get answers quickly.”
Richard Vines, CEO
How to get involved
We must come together as a community to prioritise our health – to check-in with our doctors for routine healthcare visits, prioritise screenings, ask questions about any unusual symptoms and encourage our loved ones to do the same.
Talk to your doctor
If you are experiencing any symptoms, are due for a screen or test or if you feel something is wrong, contact your doctor.
Share the message on social media
Tell your loved ones to get checked and encourage others to do the same using the hashtag #NewNormalSameCancer
Cancer Australia reports on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and cancer care in Australia.
We encourage you to visit our partners in the patient advocacy community working on the frontlines of healthcare across our country. If you have any concerns please visit their websites.