Cancer patient urging people to see a GP following fall in cancer referrals

  • Report by Victoria Davies


A father from Cornwall, who was told he could have just months to live after his skin cancer spread, is urging people to visit a doctor if they have concerns.

Roland Monger didn't take any notice of a black mark on his toe for 2-3 years, which ended up being the start of his skin cancer.

The dad-of-four recently received surgery in London which removed 90% of his pancreas and stomach.

He is now urging people to seeing their doctor if they have concerns, and not just ignore it.

The advice he is giving is, "if you have any doubts, any concerns, speak to your GP."

He said, "It is so much better to go in and find out that there is nothing to worry about than to stay at home and have that worry bubbling away in the back of your mind."

The dad-of-four recently received surgery in London which removed 90% of his pancreas and stomach. Credit: Roland Monger

According to latest figures, during the pandemic, there has been a dramatic drop in the number of people with cancer symptoms going to see a doctor.

Across the West Country in the past few months, hospitals have seen a third less referrals.

Dr Ruth Grabham, medical director for Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire's Clinical Commissioning Group, has issued a stark appeal.

Across the West Country in the past few months, hospitals have seen a third less referrals. Credit: PA images

It comes as new data reveals that GP referrals for patients with suspected cancer to each of the region’s hospitals plummeted during April, May and June.

Salisbury District Hospital saw the biggest drop, with referrals down 47 % in comparison to the first three months of the year.

The Great Western Hospital in Swindon saw a 31 % reduction in referrals, while the Royal United Hospital in Bath saw its numbers fall by 35 %

Please do not worry and wait at home for any longer, we all know that cancer can be life limiting, but in many cased these days, we do really, really well and people survive and are cured. But, if you leave it too long, the outcomes might not be as good as they could be.

Dr Ruth Grabham
Roland lives with his five-year-old son Jake, three step children, Joe, Alfie and Roxie and wife Gemma. Credit: Roland Monger

Roland, who lives in the seaside village Downderry near Looe with his children and wife, has been writing a blog, which openly discusses living with cancer during the lockdown.

His first post in 2016 describes the moment he found out he had incurable cancer:

"It was 6.10pm and I was being told that I had a malignant meta-static melanoma – in layman’s terms, an incurable skin cancer that put a sudden limitation on my life.

"This was the day the world crashed down around my ears and, as I drove home as legally fast as I could, every possible outcome came rushing through my head – from becoming a hairless, wizened Eisenhower to passing away so quickly that my 18-month old son would grow up not remembering anything about his father from first-hand experience."

You can read Roland's blog here and listen to his podcast here.