Patient information

COVID-19: Information for patients about treatment

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting all areas of the NHS and as the outbreak continues, you may be worried about the impact on cancer diagnosis and treatment. Here's what we know so far about how cancer treatment is being affected and questions for your medical team.

Updated: 21/07/2020 

What is a cancer hub?

To help increase access to treatment and prevent coronavirus spreading to people with cancer, treatment services are now beginning to be provided through cancer hubs. What does this mean and how does it affect you?

How does coronavirus affect cancer diagnosis and treatment?

If you have had symptoms of pancreatic cancer and are waiting for a diagnosis, you may have found that your investigations have been delayed or rescheduled. This is because some of the investigations for the disease like endoscopy are particularly high risk of spreading coronavirus. You should be offered alternative tests and in some cases, endoscopy should be starting to be available again.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer and are waiting to receive or are currently having treatment, the way this happens is likely to have changed. Hospitals teams are trying to carry out as much cancer treatment as possible, while balancing the risks of cancer treatment in relation to coronavirus.

The changes that take place to your treatment depend on your personal risk of coronavirus and the situation in your local area. Your medical team should discuss how coronavirus could affect your cancer treatment with you discuss your options.

You may find that some treatments, such as chemotherapy, have been adjusted or postponed to help lower your risk of getting the coronavirus and developing complications of the disease.

Many cancer treatments such as surgery require time in intensive care and may have been rearranged at the height of the pandemic. Your treatment schedule should now have been made clear to you, and whatever treatment you are waiting for, should now be being restored.

I am currently receiving treatment

If you are currently receiving treatment for cancer, you may find that your treatment, where or how it is given has changed. This may cause anxiety and you may also be worried about the effect the virus could have on your health. Some treatments, such as chemotherapy, can place you at a higher risk of coronavirus and complications from it.

Your medical team will review your treatment plan regularly and continue to explain any changes that they recommend to help reduce your risk and keep you as well as possible.

Questions for your medical team

When talking to your medical team about the effect of coronavirus on your treatment, it may help to prepare some questions to help you understand happens next.

  • How long will my treatment be delayed for?
  • What is the likely effect of a delay on my cancer?
  • Are there any alternative treatments I could have, or can I receive my treatment in a different way?
  • Will any of my other medications change?
  • Who should I contact if I have any concerns about coronavirus or my cancer in general?
  • When should I expect to hear from you again?

If you are currently taking part in a clinical trial for pancreatic cancer treatment, this may be affected by coronavirus. The researchers and your medical team should discuss this with you.

Information about cancer hubs in England

I have symptoms

If you have the symptoms of pancreatic cancer and are referred for scans or other diagnostic tests, you may find that your waiting time increases. Doctors will be working to prioritise testing for people who are most at risk, but some procedures to diagnose pancreatic cancer such as endoscopies may be cancelled in the short term. If you are worried about this, or your symptoms get worse, please contact your doctor.

For further advice and information please call us on 0303 040 1770 or e-mail