Cancer patients always face higher risk of getting infections. Many cancers modify the working of our immune system. In many cases, the treatment of cancer affects the defense mechanism of the body. Even in the cancer survivor, the immune system may not be able to fight germs.
In some cases the cancers can affect the particular organs such as kidneys or lungs. When the organs of the body are not working well, then the body is not able to combat the infections.
Therefore, if the cancer patient gets COVID-19 then the illness can be much more severe. Aged people, people with cancer, people undergoing active cancer treatment and people with other severe health issues such as heart diseases, lung disease or diabetes are at higher risk for the serious form of COVID-19, which can lead to death.
To understand cancer in COVID-19 pandemic completely, we will discuss:
• COVID-19 and Your Cancer Treatment
• How to Protect Yourself from COVID-19 if you have cancer?
• Can cancer treatment be continued in COVID-19 patients?
COVID-19 and Your Cancer Treatment
Some of the cancer treatment options such as bone marrow transplants and chemotherapy affect the immune system of your body. These treatments can reduce the number of white cells, which makes the entry of germs easy in your body. Therefore, the impaired immune system in cancer patients due to certain treatments can increase the risk of COVID-19.
Now the question arises how to protect you from COVID-19. So, let's discuss it:
How to Protect Yourself from COVID-19 if you have cancer?
You can follow some steps if you have cancer to prevent the coronavirus infection:
• Leave your home only when it is truly needed. Keep your trip as short as possible.
• Wash your hands frequently using soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• If soap is not available, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
• Keep a distance of at least 6 feet between from people around you. Social distancing is a great precautionary measure in COVID-19 outbreak.
• Disinfect surfaces, which are frequently touched by you such as sinks, counters, doorknobs, phone and light switches.
• Don’t touch your mouth, eyes or nose.
• Stock up on some weeks of medicines and important items.
• Wear a face mask if you are going out in public.
• Consult your doctor regularly even if your treatment is completed or on hold. You can choose telemedicine visits in case you want them so that you don’t have to visit the office.
• When you sneeze or cough, use a tissue and throw that tissue away after use. Otherwise, you can sneeze or cough into your elbow rather than on hand.
• Avoid close contact with the individuals who are not well. Avoid social gatherings and smaller gatherings even with the friends or family who don't live with you.
Can cancer treatment be continued if I have had COVID-19?
After you have tested positive for coronavirus disease, you should have a discussion with your doctor. Ask your doctor about the impact of COVID-19 on your cancer treatment. In some cancer treatment centers they may need a negative COVID-19 test prior to the chemotherapy or other cancer treatments begin again. But, many patients with COVID-19 persist to test positive even after the recovery from symptoms of COVID-19.
In such cases, your health care team may consider the benefits and risks of restarting the cancer treatment in spite of the positive test. You may be able to continue with some treatments if you have tested positive but do not have symptoms, particularly the ones that do not damage the immune system.
It is very important to wear a mask while coming to the treatment centre when your cancer treatment resumes. Always maintain good hand hygiene by sanitizing your hands with hand sanitizer or hand wash before and after visits.
Taking precautions can really help to prevent the coronavirus COVID-19 in any person including cancer patients. Consulting doctors at the right time can help to cure this disease on time. Therefore, staying alert can help in COVID-19 era.