The COVID-19 pandemic and the efforts to stop it from spreading have had a heavy impact on the cancer community. The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic extends beyond the capacity to acquire healthcare services, disruptions and delays in receiving healthcare have a long-term impact on cancer patients’ health and disease management. Cancer patients’ and caregivers’ mental health has been severely impacted by the confluence of medical and financial stress in many cases. Cancer and its treatment can impair one’s immune system and limit one’s capacity to fight infections caused by viruses like coronavirus, putting patients at a higher risk of consequences.
Patient groups (Cancer) who are at a higher risk are
- Patients who have received radiation
- Patients who are undergoing chemotherapy or just received chemotherapy
- People who have recently received a bone marrow or stem cell transplantation, or who are still on immunosuppressive medicines
- patients with an impaired immune system such as those with low immunoglobulin levels, leukocytopenia, long-lasting immunosuppression (steroids, antibodies), etc
How can one protect themselves from coronavirus if they have Cancer?
The measures for cancer patients, to protect themselves from coronavirus, are similar to those for the general public that is as follows –
- Always wash your hands thoroughly
- Avoid touching your face and being near ill persons.
- Adopt physical separation, and avoid social events, particularly gatherings with relatives or friends who don’t live with you, to decrease your virus exposure
- Wear a face mask and limit your excursion to as short as possible
- Make sure you have enough vital drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, to last at least one month.
- Discuss the advantages and dangers of continuing or postponing therapy with your oncologist
- Avoid hospital visits for minor ailments and try and pursue teleconsultation with your oncologist instead
By following all the precautionary measures and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, one can tackle coronavirus even if they are undergoing, or have undergone, treatment for Cancer. Hence, stay healthy, and stay safe!