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 will still need you to come into the hospital or your clinic’s office site.
If you had a cancer screening scheduled during this time, you may be urged to postpone your screening. However, your provider will help you decide what the best plan is at this time.
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.
This information has been reviewed and approved by Jeff Kern, MD, and Laurie Carr, MD (March 2020)
Learn more about COVID-19 and how it affects specific health conditions in these printable patient education materials.
Download COVID-19 Materials