Women in Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre have been urged to contact their GP practice if they notice symptoms of gynaecological cancer.
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has noticed a drop in referrals in recent weeks compared with this time last year, and is concerned some people may not be seeking help soon enough.
Although the country is in a period of lockdown, cancer services are fully operational, and while many appointments can be dealt with over the phone, anyone who needs to be seen face-to-face will be given an appointment at the hospital.
Andrea Leech, advanced nurse practitioner in gynaecology services, said: “Please do not think we are too busy or the GP will not see you. You can be referred to the hospital having described your symptoms on the phone and an examination will take place in the hospital.
“The hospital is as COVID-safe as possible. We have reduced the number of people coming into the hospital and everyone is asked to wear a mask if they are able to.
“If you have symptoms, please seek advice as soon as possible. If you do not, they will still be there once the pandemic has ended. Getting advice early could have a huge influence in you being diagnosed with early stages of cancer, instead of a more advanced disease which is more difficult to treat and survive.”
Gynaecological cancer refers to the five cancers that start in a woman’s reproductive system – cervical, ovarian, vaginal, vulval and womb cancers. Symptoms of gynaecological cancers include:
- Unusual heavy menstrual bleeding
- Spotting in-between periods
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Brownish discharge
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Post-menopausal bleeding
- Bloating of the abdomen that does not go away
- A lump in the abdomen
- Back pain/pelvic pain that does not go away
- Weight loss
- Loss in appetite
Andrea added: “We would also like to reassure patients that are already in our service that while clinics have been adjusted, they are still going ahead. We are currently holding telephone clinics so please do not come to the hospital as we will contact you.
“We also have a Facebook page called ‘BTHGynaeCancer’. This gives people the opportunity to talk to others who have had a cancer diagnosis and their families. In these unprecedented times it is good to talk, especially if people have been shielding or finding lockdown hard. Everyone is welcome to join.”
If you are worried about cancer, or have any questions about cancer, staff in the Macmillan Cancer Information & Support Centre based at Blackpool hospital are available Monday Friday, 8am – 5pm. You can contact them on 01253 955710.