If you have cancer, you should know the potential effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on your health and treatment plan. Below, are things anyone with cancer should know.
Your immune system and the infection
If you are living with cancer, your chances of becoming ill from a coronavirus infection are higher. Most cases of cancer affect the way the immune system works, and in most times, it is the cancer treatment that has a more adverse effect on the immune system. If you have survived cancer, your immune system may not be 100% to fight off infections as it normally would.
When cancer affects specific body organs, like the kidney or lungs, the organ ceases to work properly, making it difficult to fight off infections. The coronavirus is a novel one, and this makes anyone exposed to the virus to get sick due to lack of immunity. Somepersons may experience mild to moderate symptoms, while persons with underlying health conditions like cancer may experience severe symptoms of the infection.
COVID-19 and cancer treatments
Some treatments for cancer like bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy can affect the immune system. These treatments lower the number of white blood cells and affect their functionality, making it easy for the germs to enter the body and to get sick from infections.
With the outbreak of the coronavirus, your doctor will be in the best place to advise you whether or not to continue your treatment of cancer. Delaying your treatment for a while, if possible, helps you stay at home, which reduces your chances of exposure to the coronavirus. In some cases, doctors advise cancer patients to continue their treatment.
If you are yet to start your treatment, your doctor will talk you through the safest steps to take. To decide whether you should start your treatment or put it off until the coronavirus eases, your health care provider will consider the type and stage of your cancer. If you are taking part in a clinical trial, you may have to check if the treatment is on hold.
Ways to ensure your safety
If you have cancer, it is essential to take deliberate action to ensure your health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. These steps should help you stay healthy.
- Thoroughly wash your hands at all times using soap and clean water for a minimum of 20 seconds
- Wear your face mask wheneveryou are in a public
- Do not touch your eyes, mouth and nose
- Leave your house only when necessary
- If you can, get enough food, medication, and groceries to last you for a long time
- Disinfect all frequently-touched surfaces like sinks, light switches, phones, and doorknobs before you touch them
- Practice social distancing by leaving at least 2m (6 feet) between yourself and others
Be in contact with your doctor
If you have completed your treatment or it is currently on hold, ensure you remain in contact with your doctor and healthcare team. You may decide to schedule online appointments, so you do not have to leave your house to visit the clinic.
If you notice any of these COVID-19 symptoms, ensure you contact your doctor.
- Sore throat
- Muscle pain
- Loss of smell or taste
- Shortness of breath
If you are a cancer patient and undergoing treatment, you may not have a fever when you contract the coronavirus because of the effect of the treatment on your immune system. If you feel sick, contact your doctor, who will ask you about your recent exposure and symptoms to determine if you need to get a pcr swab test. You may need to self-isolate until your symptoms improve.
You can contact PCR Test Clinic on 020 31376952 to speak to a doctor if you experience symptoms of COVID-19.