Thank you for contacting me about cancer treatment during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
When people start treatment for cancer, their medical team works with them to balance the risks and benefits of treatment before agreeing a plan. As a result of the pandemic, it may be that doctors consider the risks of certain treatments, particularly those that weaken the immune system, to be much greater than normal. They will take into consideration how urgent the treatment is.
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has announced the restoration of NHS services, starting with the most urgent, like cancer care and mental health support. The NHS is open for business, and anyone who needs care and treatment should continue to access it as and when they need it. Continuation of cancer services is absolutely vital and I welcome that, due to covid-19, the 21 cancer alliances in England have established hubs to ensure dedicated cancer care away from hospitals dealing with the virus.
In England, patients being tested for ovarian cancer are initially offered a blood test (known as CA125) in a primary care setting. If the results of this are elevated, they are referred for an ultrasound which should take place within two weeks of receiving their blood test results. These ultrasounds can be arranged by primary care professionals but mostly take place in hospital radiology departments.
I fully support ensuring diagnosis pathways are as short as possible, but it is also important to recognise that it may not be efficient to order an invasive transvaginal hospital examination when it may not be indicated. I will, however, continue to monitor this issue closely, and I support the Government's announcement and roll out of Rapid Diagnosis Centres across the country to upgrade and bring together the latest diagnostic equipment and expertise, building on ten models piloted with Cancer Research UK, which have focused on diagnosing cancers where patients often present with non-specific symptoms and may go to their GP many times before being sent for tests.
If you, or anyone you know, has any symptoms of cancer I urge you to consult your GP as soon as possible.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.