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Furious cancer patients fear they may die before they see a Doctor

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Furious cancer patients fear they may die before they see a doctor as GP and hospital appointments continue to be hit by delays during the so called 2nd wave.

Sufferers who have just months to live say they are being reduced to telephone calls with their GPs, rather than face-to-face visits.

One woman, who has an incurable brain tumour, said if she had not fought the delay in her scan she could have passed away before her next assessment.

It comes as referral numbers for some types of cancer are still below their pre-“pandemic” level as ‘a huge number’ wait for screening, diagnosis and treatment.

The Royal College of GPs say there are fewer GPs than a year ago – which is causing the ‘knock on effect’ on patients.

Meanwhile leading charities yesterday pleaded with Boris Johnson to protect cancer sufferers after millions were abandoned during the first draconian lockdown.

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And a survey of doctors found millions of patients are suffering from more severe illnesses as a result of treatment delays caused by the ridiculous fear of close contact that has been created by the daily propaganda on mainstream news.

Sophie Wardle, 30, from the West Midlands, has an incurable brain tumour and does not have long to live.

She was diagnosed with a grade two astrocytoma at 23 and at 27 with a grade three anaplastic astrocytoma.

The mother of five, who works as a senior health care assistant, has a scan every three months to check for any growth in her tumour to try to prolong her life.

But at the start of the so called “second wave” she was told she would be reduced to telephone appointments, with no scans for the next three months.

She was due a scan and was furious at the decision, saying another three months could kill her.

She said ‘I just said I can’t wait that long. In three months I could have died from it. It was very annoying.

‘I get how bad the situation is at the moment, but I don’t think people with brain tumours should have to wait that long and book their own appointments.’

She added: ‘Some people may not even have the number to call.’

Ms Wardle was diagnosed with a grade two astrocytoma at 23 and at 27 with a grade three anaplastic astrocytoma
Sophie Wardle

Ms Wardle said doctors originally thought her difficulty breathing and shaking muscles were triggered by university stress and motherhood.

After suffering a seizure while visiting her doctor, she was quickly referred for an MRI scan which detected the tumour in 2014.

She had a craniotomy – where part of the skull is removed – to expose her brain so surgeons could get to her orange-sized tumour.

She was re-diagnosed with another cancerous tumour in August 2018 and is still having treatment.

The tumour was in the frontal temporal lobe of the brain which is responsible for speaking, problem solving and part of the personality.

On March 24, 2014, Ms Wardle had an operation to remove the tumour and then had chemotherapy.

But in August 2018, Ms Wardle was devastated when she was again told she had cancer – this time a grade three brain tumour which needed more treatment.

This time, on August 14, 2018, she had an awake craniotomy or ‘awake brain surgery’, in which the patient is conscious during surgery.

It is the preferred method to remove tumours close to important parts of the brain because doctors can test the patient’s function continuously.

Others have also shared their frustration at the hospital delays brought about by the epidemic of fear created due to a so called “second wave” of the coronavirus.

Many have taken to online forums, where some worry they will not live to see their next appointment while others are waiting to find out if they have the disease.

Nikki, 44, from South Wales, wrote: ‘I have waited about seven weeks to be seen at the breast clinic after an urgent referral which was meant to be within 10 days.

‘I had a mammogram on 19th October but only went to the clinic on 4th November.

‘They did an exam and an ultrasound then said they needed to take some biopsies of the lump as it was very suspicious.

‘I was then seen again by the consultant who has squeezed me in to a fully booked clinic on Monday to give me the results and discuss a treatment plan as they are almost certain it is cancer and will need to start treatment as soon as possible.

‘This has frightened the life out of me as I am now worrying about every other little ache and pain I have.

‘I’ve had a constant headache for a few weeks now as well as pain in my arm and back.

‘I guess I am just stressing about the results tomorrow but have to feel lucky that I have less than a week to wait for the results after reading about the waiting times some of you are going through.’

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Another woman, called Ruby, wrote: ‘Found a pea size hard movable lump three weeks ago. GP did just think it was cyst so didn’t mark my referral as urgent.

‘I’m told its a six month wait. Don’t think I can wait that long with it on my mind! She told me not to keep checking the lump.

‘It definitely feels different to any other lumps and bumps and it wasn’t there a few weeks ago. Is six months too long to wait?’

One user, who did not share her name, posted: ‘This morning has been a roller coaster.’

She continued: ‘Wednesday: 9am emailed the surgery on their askmygp app. Typed in ‘ I’ve found a lump in my breast ‘. Cue tears…

‘Couple of hours pass while I try and concentrate on nothing much. Call from clinician at the surgery.

‘Lots of questions about where it is, how big it is, does it move, is it attached, any redness, any discharge.

‘Referred to breast clinic. Usually two weeks but because of Covid they are a bit behind.

‘Could be 3 weeks. Be prepared they will probably do an ultra sound scan and a biopsy there and then.’

A woman called Angel said online: ‘I was in hospital and had a CT scan almost seven weeks ago when they discovered a lump in my breast and said they would refer me to the breast clinic three weeks ago.

‘I found out the referral wasn’t done and the hospital were very apologetic, which dosent help me and its been four weeks since the referral was done.

‘Does anyone know how long they waited to be seen by the breast clinic as I’m so worried I’ll fall through the net again?’

What To Do If You Can't Book A GP Appointment, As 1 In 3 Say They Can't Get  Through By Phone | HuffPost UK Life
Cancer sufferers are struggling to get appointments

And another added: ‘I’ve been told I’m on the urgent list for a referral to the gynae [gynaecologist] but it’s been over a week now.

‘Shouldn’t I be seen within two weeks? I haven’t even had any details about an appointment through.’

Damning figures from the first wave suggest up to 35,000 extra deaths next year may be caused by cancer as a result of the pandemic.

At least three million people are waiting for screening while around 350,000 have not had the urgent referrals they needed this year.

Experts estimate there are 50,000 patients with undiagnosed cancer due to Covid-19 chaos – a backlog which could take up to 18 months to tackle in England.

Miss Mitchell said: ‘The Government cannot wait any longer to give the NHS the support it needs.

‘Now is the time to ensure that cancer patients are protected in a second wave and to invest to improve survival for future patients.

‘The pandemic has already had a devastating impact on the lives of cancer patients. We must not see this repeated.’

Other charities which have signed include Breast Cancer Now, Prostate Cancer UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, Brain Tumour Research, Ovarian Cancer Action and the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Backing came from top clinicians such as Professor Peter Selby, of the Association of Cancer Physicians, and Dr Jeanette Dickson, president of The Royal College of Radiologists.

Their letter, also sent to the First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, states: ‘People affected by cancer have suffered terribly as a result of this pandemic.

‘We’re asking you to act to uphold your ambition to improve cancer survival across our four nations.

‘Millions were left waiting for screening and thousands went without a referral for tests.

‘Over 30,000 fewer people started their treatment and most cancer clinical trials were paused.

‘We must learn lessons from earlier in the year. As Covid-19 cases rise, it’s imperative there are no further delays to essential cancer diagnosis, treatment and clinical trials.’

The charities also ask for urgent measures to deal with ‘deep-seated challenges’ within cancer services.

Meanwhile one in three doctors said they were now treating non-Covid patients with worse symptoms than prior to the crisis.

They warned of a growing crisis of patients who are in agony because of either delays in seeking help or treatment cancellations during the first lockdown.

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