Robert's cancer diagnosis received virtually

Robert's cancer story

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown period, many patients saw a GP or consultant virtually. We speak to Robert Rodrigues, who had a number of virtual consultations just before the UK lockdown – consultations which led to him being diagnosed with cancer. Five months after successful surgery to remove the growth, Robert speaks to us about his experience.

Seeking a diagnosis

Just before Christmas, 32-year-old Robert Rodrigues noticed a growth and tenderness around his breast tissue. By the end of February, his symptoms weren’t going away, so he decided to get in touch with his GP: “I spoke to my GP, who recommended that I go for blood tests – and it was at this point that I thought it might be best to use my private medical cover with AXA healthcare which I had through my employer”, comments Robert.

Following these blood tests, he was referred to Mr Abdul Kasem, consultant breast surgeon at London Bridge Hospital and The Harley Street Clinic (both of which are part of HCA Healthcare UK), for a virtual consultation. Robert comments: “During my in-person consultation with Mr Kasem, he said that I could have a condition called gynaecomastia, something that I had already considered after doing some research online. However, when he discussed the typical symptoms of gynaecomastia with me, whilst some fitted with what I was experiencing, he was concerned that there was another underlying issue, especially as gynaecomastia usually doesn’t affect someone my age.”

Leaving no stone unturned

As gynaecomastia can signal that there are problems elsewhere in the body, Mr Kasem decided to refer Robert to a consultant urologist, who then referred him for an ultrasound at The Harley Street Clinic because some of the markers in his blood test were unusually high. Due to this consultant needing to isolate because of COVID-19, he handed Robert’s care to his colleague, Mr Rajesh Nair, consultant urologist at London Bridge Hospital. 

Delivering the diagnosis

On the same day as his ultrasound, Robert received a call from Mr Nair, breaking the news that he had cancer. Robert commented: “Whilst it was a complete shock to receive the cancer diagnosis, the speed in which I was diagnosed was astounding.

On the phone, Mr Nair immediately informed me that surgery would be the quickest and most effective way of treating the cancer, and that by operating quickly, the prognosis was extremely positive, with a low chance of recurrence. Even though I received the diagnosis by phone, he made me feel so calm and reassured as he informed me about the next steps, which in turn made me feel more at ease with the diagnosis.”

Prioritising patient safety during the pandemic

Despite being admitted into London Bridge Hospital during the COVID-19 lockdown period when the virus was at its peak, Robert didn’t feel anxious about being in a hospital. He adds: “I could see with my own eyes just how vigilant everyone was being in the hospital – there were so many safety precautions in place to keep patients and staff safe.

The doctor’s opinion was ‘let’s act quick’ and that’s something that I was also incredibly impressed by. From the initial conversation with my urologist and having the diagnostic tests, to receiving his diagnosis and going into surgery - it all happened within seven days.” 

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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