In Conversation with Professor Arnold Hill, chairman of Breast Cancer Ireland and leading breast surgeon

Professor Arnold Hill, Chairman of Breast Cancer Ireland, leading breast surgeon, and Chairman of the Department of Surgery, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, takes some questions from our breast cancer community regarding Covid-19. He is conscious that guidelines are changing and new protocols may be called for in these uncertain times.

1) Am I more at risk of contracting Covid-19 because of my treatments?

All cancer patients, regardless of the term ‘in remission’, need to be extra cautious and adhere to the guidelines provided by the HSE/ WHO. Those currently receiving chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy have an increased risk, and therefore need to be extra vigilant. Medical teams are advising their patients to take extra care at this time.

2) Should I continue to attend my treatment appointments in the hospital during this crisis?

All appointments are being dealt with on an individual basis, via video consulting and/or in person. Hospitals have their own stringent criteria and are assessing each patient on an individual basis in terms of risk.

3) If I find a symptom (one of the eight) during the Covid-19 crisis what should I do?

Follow the same protocol as in the past. Contact your GP. If they are not seeing people in person, they will video consult with you and assess, to the best of their ability, your level of risk and severity. Once the GP feels it necessary, they will refer you to the Breast Clinic. In our Breast Clinic in Beaumont Hospital, we are following very clear guidelines and are assessing the referrals based on the greatest concern. In the past, our Breast Clinic would have seen 40-50 people per day. With Covid-19 restrictions, we are seeing 15 per day, safely. Our system allows for patients to be given a dedicated time for their appointment. They are advised to wait in their car in the car park and phone a dedicated nurse line in the clinic. Once the clinic is free, they are invited to come inside, but only one at a time.

4) Should I attend my BreastCheck appointment that was given to me during this crisis?

BreastCheck have suspended their service in line with HSE guidelines. In the event of you being concerned, please contact your GP.

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