Shielding guidance update
If you currently have pancreatic cancer, or have had the disease in the past, you may have been advised by the government that you need to take part in shielding (staying at home and only leaving the house for medical appointments). You might have been contacted by letter, text message or in another way to tell you to shield for 12 weeks.
However, government advice has changed. You may now be aware that regardless of the initial date that you were told to do so, in England, you should now shield and stay inside until at least the end of June. Some of the devolved nations have not given an end date for the end of shielding and you should continue until advice is updated otherwise.
The relax in lockdown measures does not affect people who are shielding. It may be the case that as lockdown continues to be relaxed and some people return to work or children to school, you are asked to continue shielding. The government will update shielding information depending on how prevalent coronavirus is in the community and the risk that this may pose to people who are extremely vulnerable.
Should I be shielding?
If you currently have pancreatic cancer or had the disease in the past and had treatments to remove the cancer, particularly those involving the removal of your spleen, it is likely that you should be shielding.
If you have been told to shield but are unsure or have not been contacted but feel like you should have been, speak to your medical team who will be able to clarify this with you.
Support for people who are shielding
Most of the people who need to, should have been contacted by this stage to be told about shielding and offered support where you need it with food and medicines delivery. Volunteers are also able to support you with loneliness through regular phone calls.
Even if you have been contacted about shielding and don’t feel as though you need support, the government recommend that you register for support so that it is there if you do need it.
If you are shielding in England, you can register online for support here Or phone 0800 028 8327. You will need your NHS number to register. This can be found on your shielding letter if you received one or on any prescriptions.
In Scotland you can find more information on shielding and accessing support at NHS Inform or by calling 0800 111 4000.
What to do if you think you should be shielding but have not yet been contacted?
If you have a new diagnosis of pancreatic cancer or think you may have been missed from the shielding list, you may not have been contacted yet. Different areas are sending out letters at different speeds depending on when people are diagnosed or what is happening at a local level. There is no time limit for when you can be added to the list for shielding.
If you are worried that you should be shielding the first point of contact will be your GP or the medical team treating your cancer. Ask them to clarify if you should be shielding. Your GP can add to you to the list of vulnerable people eligible for support.
If you are finding it difficult to contact or hear back from your medical team and you are shielding due to pancreatic cancer or associated conditions, please contact Pancreatic Cancer Action. You can phone us on 03030401770 or email email@example.com
If you meet the criteria for shielding, we will be able to refer you for support.
What if I don’t want to shield?
Shielding is designed to protect you from coronavirus, but it is ultimately advice, and whether to shield is a personal decision. For some patients with pancreatic cancer, especially those with advanced disease and a limited life span, shielding may cause a great deal of distress and you may prefer not to.
If you are thinking of deciding not to shield, we recommend discussing this with your medical team treating your cancer or your GP. They will able to discuss the risks and benefits with you, personalised to your case and circumstances.