Cancer patients and COVID-19
The journey of cancer patients and their caretakers is difficult, no question. But the new unique coronavirus has further complicated the lives of patients, caretakers, and the health team in charge of their treatment.
Jeffrey Giguere, MD, Prisma Health Cancer Institute, said, “While data is limited, there appears to be nothing about a cancer diagnosis that increases infection risk. The issue becomes pertinent when the cancer demands a therapy that, in a number of potential ways, makes a patient more immune-deficient.” This makes cancer patients more vulnerable to illnesses such as the coronavirus.
What can you do to protect yourself?
Dr. Giguere advises patients to be especially careful by:
- staying at home in addition to the practice of social distancing;
- washing your hands frequently; and
- monitoring yourself for symptoms.
He said healthcare providers are also working to avoid unnecessary exposures. Elective follow up appointments are being postponed, and any therapies that could be reasonably postponed are being delayed. Many providers are also offering telehealth services, including phone calls.
What to do if you develop symptoms?
“If you are a cancer patient on active therapy or know that you are immunocompromised on the basis of a low white count, you will need to contact your oncology physician,” said Dr. Giguere. “Based on your symptoms and history, you may need to be physically seen and evaluated.”
In case of an emergency, always call 911.
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