Beating bowel cancer together

Coronavirus and bowel cancer

Page updated: Friday 1 April 2022

Government guidance

For full government guidance, visit the EnglandScotlandWales and Northern Ireland government websites.

Bowel cancer services

The NHS is focusing on making sure that care for patients continues to be safe, effective and holistic. This means that cancer diagnosis, treatment and care are continuing, and the NHS is working to ensure that these services return to operating as they did before. However, some services may be delivered in a slightly different way. This is for patient safety by using infection control measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to help keep other services running.

It is important to contact your GP surgery straightaway if you have worrying symptoms and you think it might be bowel cancer. We know that some people are struggling to get an appointment the first time they call, but it's really important you let your GP surgery know about any symptoms. GP surgeries are offering online and phone consultations so that you don't have to attend in person unnecessarily. If you have any symptoms, don't be embarrassed and don't ignore them. Doctors are used to seeing lots of people with bowel problems.

If you have been asked to go to an appointment, it is important that you attend. The only reason you should not go is if you have any symptoms of coronavirus. In this case, you should tell the hospital. The clinical team will discuss with you about when your appointment can be safely rescheduled.

Find out the temporary changes to bowel cancer treatment and care during the coronavirus pandemic.

Practical ways to reduce your risk

It is still possible to catch COVID-19, even if you are fully vaccinated. This is why it's still important to stay cautious.

  • Wash your hands and clean your surroundings regularly
  • Wear a face covering in enclosed spaces and on public transport
  • Make space and exercise caution when meeting with people you don’t live with to help keep you and your loved ones safe

Getting tested for COVID-19

Some parts of the UK have now stopped providing a free coronavirus testing service for the general public. This includes both lateral flow tests and PCR tests.

Free tests are still be available for some groups of people. Check the guidance for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for up to date information on whether you are eligible for free tests.

If you are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from coronavirus, you will be contacted directly about testing and how to reorder tests.

Advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people

Some people with cancer are more at risk of becoming seriously ill from coronavirus. The current guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people is to follow the same advice as the rest of the population. It's still important to continue to be cautious and take extra precautions to keep yourself safe.

There is separate guidance for people in EnglandScotlandWales and Northern Ireland. This guidance is subject to change, please check the government websites in the first instance.

If you are unsure of your risk and what measures you should be taking, or if you don't feel comfortable with any of the changes, you should speak with your hospital specialist. If this is not possible, you may find it helpful to contact your GP. It's important that you do what you are comfortable with. This may be particularly relevant for patients who are receiving end of life care.

The Government will continue to assess the situation and the risks posed by COVID-19 and, based on clinical advice, will respond accordingly to keep the most vulnerable safe.

If you feel unwell

If you experience sweats, coughing or shivering and you are receiving cancer treatment you should first contact:

  • your chemotherapy care line. If the chemotherapy care line is not available in your area, speak to your clinical team about who you should call in this situation
  • the Acute Oncology Service at your hospital

In an emergency, call 999 if you're seriously ill. Do this as soon as you get symptoms.

Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.

COVID-19 vaccine

An effective vaccine is the best way to protect people from coronavirus and will save thousands of lives.

For all our information and advice on the COVID-19 vaccine and booster programme for people with bowel cancer, please visit our dedicated webpage.

Help us help everyone affected by bowel cancer

If you've found our information and support useful, please consider making a donation towards our lifesaving work so that we can be here for you all now and in the future.

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Your support helps save lives. Donate now and help us ensure a future where nobody dies of bowel cancer.
Your support helps save lives. Donate now and help us ensure a future where nobody dies of bowel cancer.

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