For patients with cancer, taking precautionary steps to avoid illnesses like coronavirus should be a habit. Patients with cancer have lowered immune systems due to treatment or to the cancer itself, so contracting COVID-19 or other illnesses can be dangerous. It is more important than ever before for those with and without cancer to minimize the risk of contracting or spreading illnesses because of the coronavirus.
During this time, the way your cancer is treated or monitored may differ. How you treat or monitor side effects of treatment and the signs of getting sick may change too. A few important questions to ask your provider about coronavirus are:
You and your provider should create a plan for how to monitor and treat your cancer during this time. Chemotherapy or immunotherapy infusions, radiation therapy or scans, procedures or surgery still require you to come into the hospital or clinic.
While cancer patients are more susceptible to COVID-19 and other illnesses due to their immunocompromised status, there are steps that everyone can take to lower the chances of catching or spreading the coronavirus.
For cancer patients isolating at home with family members, it is important that those individuals follow the same coronavirus prevention guidelines, frequent hand washing, social distancing, limiting contact, avoiding sick contacts. If anyone in the household has symptoms of a viral infection, they should self-isolate. Cancer patients who feel ill and have or may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their health care provider for guidance before going to a hospital or urgent care.
New drugs have been approved to use in cancer patients to prevent COVID-19 infections and shorten the disease course if you do get infected. Talk with your oncologist to find out if one of these drugs is appropriate for you.
This information has been reviewed and approved by Jeff Kern, MD, and Laurie Carr, MD (February 2022)
The information on our website is medically reviewed and accurate at the time of publication. Due to the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, information may have since changed. CDC.gov and your state’s health department may offer additional guidance.