Since March 2020, the MPCCC has been working closely with the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre to deliver a coordinated response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to cancer care through the Victorian COVID-19 Cancer Network.

The network recently launched the ‘Cancer Never Stops’ campaign, which aims to encourage members of the community to visit their GP if they have concerning symptoms or general health concerns. The campaign emphasises that visits to the GP are safe, and are always permissible under any COVID-19 related restrictions on travel.

It was formed in response to recent data from Cancer Australia and Cancer Council Victoria, which show a significant drop in cancer pathology notifications, screening, appointments and procedures during the pandemic. Four major Victorian cancer bodies – the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) alliance, Monash Partners Comprehensive Cancer Consortium, Cancer Council Victoria and the Victorian Integrated Cancer Services – have come together in support of this campaign.

The ‘Cancer Care Never Stops’ campaign features a series of 90-second videos scripted and voiced by Victorian doctors which will be shared on social media and other digital platforms from today. They will also be translated into a range of languages. The videos are designed to address fears people may have about seeking medical care during the pandemic and to reaffirm that seeking medical care is one of the four reasons to leave home. Proof of a GP appointment is also an accepted reason for a person to be further than 5kms from home.

“The consequences of people delaying health checks could be profound for both the individual and our health care system,” Professor Grant McArthur, Executive Director of the VCCC and Co-Chair of the Victorian COVID-19 Cancer Network, said.

“We are unfortunately preparing for a wave of cancer cases coming through in the next six to twelve months, so we want to urge Victorians that getting timely checks is very important, safe and accessible.”

“COVID-19 has not changed the fact that one in three men and one in four women in Victoria will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 75,” Professor McArthur said.

Dr Ines Rio, a general practitioner who voiced one of the videos, highlights that a range of appointment options are available.

“If people have concerns or are due for a check-up, we are available via video call, phone or face-to-face appointments, and we will always advise patients on the safest and appropriate options that best suit them. If tests or a referral to a specialist is required, GPs will make the necessary arrangements.”

Another video will be released next week about the risks of patients not attending specialist cancer appointments.

“Cancer never stops, and neither do health care professionals. If something’s not right, please contact your GP,” Dr Rio said.