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Cancer services - Covid-19 information

Cancer services

We want you to know that transmission of COVID at CUH is very low, and both patients and staff are being routinely tested for the virus. You are encouraged to come in for your scheduled appointment and not delay further. If you have concerns about COVID risks, please contact your treating team. When you do come in, please bear in mind that we are trying to minimise the number of visitors to keep patients and staff safe, so please attend on your own if possible. A companion is welcome to wait in the car park or outside of the hospital, and join you at a time agreed with your clinical team. If you need support to attend, please arrange this in advance with your clinical team.

Non-urgent advice: November 2021 Update

Oncology Entrance fully closed for 3 weeks

Works began on Monday 01 November to the external ramp in the Oncology Entrance, these works will improve the gradient of the ramp and remove any lips which have caused a number of incidents for our wheelchair users. Works are expected to take 3 weeks during which time the entrance will be fully closed. Please attend via the main hospital.

If would like more information about the Covid booster / third primary dose for cancer patients please see:

  • Cancer Research UK information on third doses and boosters.
  • JCVI guidance for vaccinating severely immunosuppressed individuals with a third primary dose.

Third dose of the vaccine / Booster vaccine

Anyone over the age of 12 years whose immune system was severely weakened when they had the first or second vaccine, should have a third vaccine (please see criteria for a third primary dose of COVID-19 vaccine, p. 21). You will be contacted by your GP or local vaccine centre inviting you for the third vaccine; the vaccine is not available to you at the hospital. If you are having cancer treatment your specialist will advise about when is the best time to have this jab. This is not a booster jab so you may still need a booster.  If you have not been contacted by your GP/local vaccine centre you can make a self-referral and provide information regarding your medical condition and medication that would make you immunosuppressed and thus eligible for a third dose of the primary course.  This might include a copy of relevant hospital letters, proof of medication.  If you are still unable to get a third vaccine please contact your clinical team who will be able to provide you with a supporting letter to take to a vaccination centre.

People most at risk should have the booster vaccine no earlier than 6 months after the second jab of their last course.  You will be contacted by your GP or local vaccine centre to arrange the booster jab; the vaccine is not available to you at the hospital.

Urgent advice: Covid swabs required prior to treatment

For patients attending the oncology and haematology day units.

You will be asked to undertake a Covid swab test 72 hours prior to each treatment.

Options for a Covid swab tests are:

  • Via post (minimum 72hrs prior to treatment).  Please see this leaflet below (Covid - home test letter - Cancer Services) for details; 
  • At the hospital if attending for another outpatient appointment;
  • At the drive through service at Magog Court, Hinton Way, Great Shelford, Cambridge CB22 3AB, open 8:30am to 3:30pm.

One of these options will be booked for you.  If you believe you need a Covid swab test and have not been contacted 96 hours / 4 days prior to treatment, please ring the Oncology Day Unit on 01223 217099 or Haematology Day Unit on 01223 217720.

For radiotherapy patients.

When you attend for your planning CT scan, we will undertake a COVID swab test. This will be repeated when you attend for your first treatment and every two weeks while you attend for Radiotherapy treatment. If you have any queries regarding the process please call Radiotherapy on 01223 216634.

If you test positive for Covid, we may need to change your treatment schedule or location.

A member of the administrative team will contact you to make any new arrangements as required.

Non-urgent advice: Location for receiving chemotherapy

All patients requiring chemotherapy or treatment will be contacted and booked to either Oncology or Haematology Day Unit.  You do not need to enter the main hospital to enter the Oncology or Haematology Day Units, each have a separate entrance.  If you have any COVID symptoms before you are due for treatment please contact the appropriate treatment unit.

Non-urgent advice: Timing and location of the blood test service

The following options are available for patients requiring a blood test:

Newmarket Road Park-n-Ride

This drop-in service is available between 09:30 and 16:30, Monday to Fridays, to anyone who has medical paperwork or a request on the hospital computer system confirming that they need a blood test. Anyone without this, will be turned away. You can read more here . We encourage patients to use this service to keep the number of patients entering the hospital at a minimum.

Oncology & Haematology Outpatients at Addenbrooke’s Hospital 

In order to maintain social distancing in the waiting area an appointments system will be operating. To book an appointment, call the Administration team on 01223 216551. However, for bloods immediately prior to face to face appointments, patients can attend the clinic for bloods 1 hour prior to their appointment time without a booking. Following their blood tests, patients may then be asked to leave the area in order to manage numbers in the waiting area; they can then return to the waiting area 10 minutes prior to their clinic appointment time.  

GP Surgeries or Local Hospitals

If you have an agreement for your bloods to be taken at your GP or local hospital, please inform your clinical team and ask them to place an order for external bloods and either give you in person or by post a printed form detailing the tests that need to be taken. When attending for the blood test at the GP or local hospital please ask them to report results to the administration team add-tr.Oncocladmin@nhs.net, please note this is a ‘no-reply’ email address, 24-72 hours before your appointment time.  

Ely Pilot Scheme

From 19th February 21, a pilot scheme offers appointments for patients in the local area at the Princess of Wales Hospital, Ely on Fridays between 8:30am – 4:00pm. (Note:  this service has been paused and will hopefully restart 2022).

For bloods prior to a phone or video consultation, patients will need to have their bloods taken 24-72 hours prior to their booked consultation. 

A member of the administration team will contact you to make arrangements to have your bloods taken and you will be offered attendance at the above sites. If you have not heard from anyone 72 hours prior to your clinic appointment, please call the Administration team 01223 216551 who will be happy to assist.  

Non-urgent advice: Imaging Services  (X-ray, CT, MRI, PET, Ultrasound)

Due to COVID19, the Imaging Department is experiencing a reduction in its normal capacity. This is to keep patients and staff safe. Extra resources to support are being arranged. Patients may be sent appointments to be scanned at other locations such as independent hospitals and vans. The Department is continuing to see patients for urgent diagnostic tests, but there are waiting times for surveillance scans. It is really important that patients accept appointments at other locations as the Department does not know when patients can be booked to attend Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

To reduce risks for patients waiting for surveillance scans, the Imaging Department and Clinical Teams are continually reviewing patients on waiting lists and prioritising scans for those at higher risk of a cancer recurrence. Due to numbers involved it is not possible to keep all of those waiting informed of their likely scan date and time. Please feel assured that you will receive a date at a time in the future; however, if you become concerned contact your clinical team for information and support. 

Due to the increased number of scans taking place to recover the backlog of requests, there is currently a delay in scans being reported by Radiologists.  This has impacted on some cancer surveillance scans not being reported in time for outpatient appointments which we understand can be very distressing.  While we have implemented a new system to prioritise these scans so they can be reported in time for your outpatient appointment, this remains a slower process than pre-Covid time and your patience is greatly appreciated.

Non-urgent advice: Delays to surgery

There may be surgery delays because our COVID safety approach means we had to reduce capacity  e.g. allowing time for deep cleaning. We are addressing this by using theatres in private hospitals but capacity is not back to normal yet. Patients waiting are being reviewed on a case by case basis by their treating team and prioritised accordingly.  If your surgery has been delayed and you experience new symptoms or feel concerned, please contact your treating team.  

Non-urgent advice: Worried you may have cancer?

Please contact your GP.  If you have been referred to CUH by your GP, it is really important that you attend the first offered appointment.

Non-urgent advice: Cancer Support Team

Due to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak the Cancer Support Team has temporarily altered how it supports patients during their experience of cancer.

The team can be contacted Monday to Friday, 09:00-16:00, on 01223 274801. We are expecting a higher than average number of calls, so please leave a message if you cannot get through and we will endeavour to call you back as soon as possible.

The Macmillan Cancer Support Team at Addenbrooke’s can now be contacted online and can support you with any non-medical issues you may be dealing with as a result of a cancer diagnosis or the cancer treatment you are going through. See https://www.cuh.nhs.uk/our-services/cancer-services/cancer-support-services/. You can also contact the team by email on add-tr.Information-Support@nhs.net. This account is checked daily and we will make every effort to respond as quickly as possible to any queries.

For any clinical enquiries, please contact your clinical team as normal.

For financial or benefits advice, please contact the Macmillan benefits advisors on 0345 600 6257 or macmillanbenefits@suffolk.gov.uk

For further support you can access the main Macmillan website on www.macmillan.org.uk or contact them on 0808 808 0000. 

Non-urgent advice: Government advice for extremely vulnerable people

The UK Government has issued guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19. 

This includes people:

  • with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy;
  • with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer;
  • with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment;
  • having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer;
  • having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors;
  • who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs.

If you were shielding you may need support. A Countywide Hub may be able to provide support if you don’t have friends, family or neighbours to help, please visit www.peterborough.gov.uk/coronavirus or www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/coronavirus  or call 0345 045 5219.  District and City Councils also have information on their websites about local hubs and how people can get in touch and access help and support

At Addenbrooke’s, shielding patients should seek advice from their treating team or GP to discuss the best way to shield or transition from shielding based on individual needs and treatment.

Helpful documents and links

Frequently Asked Questions (see below) – generated by the Cancer Patient Partnership Group

Macmillan Cancer Support has specific information on the coronavirus for cancer patients and has developed a COVID19 Offer.  

It includes:

Teenage Cancer Trust

Cancer Research UK also has specific information for cancer patients. 

It includes:

  • How can cancer and treatment weaken immunity?
  • What’s the advice for people with cancer (who have no symptoms of coronavirus)?
  • What do I do if I have symptoms?

Cancer Care Map - Search by postcode for cancer support services in your area.

East of England Cancer Alliance - Frequently Asked Questions in response to COVID-19 for cancer patients