Frequently asked Questions

Why is the survey being done?

The National COVID cancer antibody survey has been launched to help the NHS understand the protection provided by antibodies generated following COVID-19 vaccination and infection in cancer patients. It will also help us understand whether and how antibody responses differs between different cancer types and whether any particular treatments affect response to vaccination.


How can I participate in the antibody survey?

Participation in the survey consists of a two-phase registration process. On the home page, click to participate. The first phase lasts 5 minutes and involves you confirming that you are comfortable to take part.

You will then be automatically transferred to the gov.uk antibody home testing registration page. This second phase takes approximately 20 minutes. You enter your details to obtain a 16 digit code. You will get the code a few days after registering and this allows a kit to be dispatched to your home.

The kit will contain all the equipment you need to collect your sample. The sample is then dispatched to the national COVID testing laboratories. A result will be returned to you. There is no time limit for you to return your kit. There is no cost to you for participating.


What if I have a problem requesting my home testing kit from gov.uk?

The gov.uk home testing page is a beta service. There may be occasional issues getting your 16 digit code or confirming your address/order.

If you have trouble with this website, we suggest you re-try the webpage the week after. If this fails, try clearing your cookies or try a different device/website browser. If the problem continues, we would be grateful if you could let our National COVID Cancer survey team know by using our contact form. We will then escalate to gov.uk data teams to investigate.


I am on anticoagulants (like apixaban, dabigatran, rivaroxaban, dalteparin, heparin, warfarin) – can I take part?

Individuals on anticoagulants have a higher bleeding risk than individuals not on these drugs. Individuals on these drugs have been discouraged from doing these tests at home/without medical supervision. This is to reduce bleeding risk. Individuals on tablets like aspirin or clopidogrel can take part.


I live in Wales/Scotland/Northern Ireland- can I take part?

The survey is open to individuals living with cancer in England. At present, cancer leads in devolved nations have not approved access to the survey.


I am on a watch and wait program- can I take part?

The survey is open to individuals with a diagnosis of cancer in the last year or are on anti-cancer treatment or those who have had a stem cell transplant at any time in the past. At present, we have not opened for individuals on a watch and wait program.


I am on hormonal therapy- can I take part?

Yes you can. Hormonal therapy is frequently used for individuals with prostate/breast/gynae cancer. It is classed as anti-cancer treatment. You are welcome to participate.


What results will I receive?

You will be informed if you antibodies detected in your blood sample. These are antibodies that may have developed following COVID-19 vaccination or COVID-19 infection. The gov.uk testing program does not give have the ability to issue an exact measurement of levels of the test. It reports on presence/absence based on the manufacturer’s instruction for use.


I have received a negative antibody test result, does this mean that I am not protected from COVID?

A negative test result means that you have no detectable antibodies in your blood. It does not necessarily mean that you are not protected from COVID. This is because the test only measures one part of your immune response, antibodies. Another type of immune cell, called T-cells, are also important. T-cells are not assessed in this survey because these tests aren’t readily available yet.

If you are unsure what to do, you should discuss your results with your oncologists/GP who will be able to help. Further useful information is available from Blood Cancer UK (https://bloodcancer.org.uk/news/what-do-covid-antibody-test-results-mean-for-people-with-blood-cancer/). 


Which laboratory antibody tests are performed?

The national COVID-19 testing laboratories uses the Roche Anti-SARS-CoV-2 test. The test measures SARS-CoV-2 N and SARS-CoV-2 spike protein antibodies . These are antibodies that are made in response to infection or following vaccination. Studies by the manufacturer have found that this test has a 99.5% sensitivity and a 99.8% specificity.


I am not in work/ I work in the retail or non-healthcare sector- can I take part?

Yes you can! You can take part irrespective of whether you work, or where you work. On the gov.uk website, you may click “other”, under your job description for the purposes of this survey.


I can’t enter my third/booster dose vaccination date on gov.uk- will this affect the analysis?

The gov.uk website is continually being improved. The ability to self-assert your third dose will be implemented soon. This will not affect the ability of this survey to improve understanding of the protection provided by antibodies following COVID-19 infection and vaccination.