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 of much greater risk than normal. They will take into consideration how urgent your treatment is: in some cases, delaying treatment might not make a big difference to the outcome. Patients with cancer visit hospitals regularly, but for those who are particularly vulnerable, this is more risky than usual as it may result in exposure to the virus.
I was delighted when, on 27 April, my colleague the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 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, especially when delays could impose both an immediate and a long term risk to health.
Any changes to treatment protocol to ensure patients are treated safely should be carried out in full consultation with patients, to ensure that they fully understand the reasoning behind any changes made in line with guidance from clinical experts. If you are concerned about your own or a relative’s treatment, I strongly suggest you contact the medical team and discuss options.