CANCER patients are being urged not to skip appointments for vital tests and treatment during the coronavirus pandemic.

Health bosses from Cheshire & Merseyside Cancer Alliance are concerned that if people delay coming to hospital, they may end up being diagnosed with advanced cancer that is less treatable.

Hospitals across Cheshire & Merseyside have put measures in place to keep people safe during their appointments, including dedicated 'COVID-secure' facilities.

Social distancing and rigorous precautions are in place, alongside extra cleaning regimes.

Innovative ways of testing and treating cancer have reduced the need for people to come to hospital as often, including video consultations and delivering the same dose of radiotherapy in fewer sessions.

Dr Ash Bassi, Diagnostic Lead for Cheshire & Merseyside Cancer Alliance and a Consultant gastroenterologist at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "I see people with cancer every day. The earlier it's diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.

"Hospital specialists are very skilled at assessing referrals and prioritising those with the most urgent clinical needs.

"If a hospital has invited you for cancer tests or treatment, it’s really important that you do attend."

Dr Liz Bishop, senior responsible officer for Cheshire & Merseyside Cancer Alliance and Chief Executive of The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Hospitals have taken every precaution to keep patients and staff safe.

"We're very concerned that people could be putting their health at greater risk by delaying contacting their GP with symptoms and not attending hospital for cancer tests or treatment."

The advice to people with COVID-19 symptoms is to cancel their appointments and stay away from hospital.

The main symptoms are high temperature, new continuous cough and loss or change to their sense of smell or taste.

If you have any of those symptoms, get a COVID-19 test as soon as possible – visit for more information or call 119 to book a test.

Cheshire & Merseyside Cancer Alliance is a partnership of NHS organisations working together to transform diagnosis, treatment and care for people with cancer.