Worried about wait with partners diagnosis

My partner was told at an emergency ENT appointment 9 days ago that he probably has tonsil cancer. He's been for some scans already - with more booked across the weekend. However, we've been told that the biopsy won't happen for approx 3+ weeks as it needs to be carried out under general anaesthetic - with a 2 week notice period due to covid. Obviously this is an incredibly stressful time for my partner (and me) and we're just so worried that the cancer might be spreading during this wait. I guess we're just looking for some reassurance that this timeframe for biopsy is normal as I've read quite a few other patient stories about tonsil cancer diagnosis that seemed to work a lot faster than this. I know everyone is different, but I just feel so powerless and concerned that this is moving so slowly. Many thanks for any advice / support you can offer. 

  • Hello Weaselbear,

    Thank you for getting in touch with Macmillan Cancer support and welcome to our online community. My name is Annerose and am one of the Cancer Information nurses.

    I can only imagine how anxious and stressed you’re both feeling about the diagnosis and the waiting times for further tests. It is completely understandable that you’re both feeling worried about what might happen to the cancer while your partner has to wait for an appointment.

    It’s understandable that you would look on the internet for information. The internet is a wonderful tool, but it is not always the best place to get answers.

    Covid-19 has caused delays with appointments and treatment in most hospitals. However, it might be helpful to know that your partner has been seen within the urgent referral timeline.

    These are cancer waiting time guidelines, which apply for England only and state that any suspected cancer needs to be seen within a 2 week time frame, a decision to treat should be made within 31 days, and a further 31 days to start the treatment.

    This timeline has been agreed because it is very unlike for most cancers to grow or cause significant problems during this time.

    This is also a time to have further tests and get results to confirm the diagnosis for the Multi-Disciplinary Team to discuss in their weekly meeting and be able to offer the way forward.

    It might be reassuring to know that your partners appointments are within this timeframe. However, if it would help to speak directly with one of our nurses on the support line, we’d be more than happy to about any of your concerns.

    Best Wishes

    (Cancer Information Nurse Specialist)