*If I have cancer, am I at higher risk of getting COVID-19?
Because SARS-CoV-2 is a new virus, anyone who is exposed to it is at risk of becoming infected and developing COVID-19. Some cancer treatments such as chemotherapy can weaken your immune system (cause you to be immunocompromised) and may increase your risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Other risk factors may also increase your risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including:
- lung, heart, liver, or kidney disease
- immune deficiencies, including HIV and AIDS
- a history of smoking
- a history of bone marrow or organ transplantation
- prolonged use of corticosteroidsor other medications that can weaken the immune system
*I am a cancer survivor. Am I at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19?
People who were treated for cancer in the past may have weakened immune systems, which can increase their risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Cancer survivors may want to discuss their concerns about COVID-19 with their doctors.
*If I have cancer now or had it in the past, how can I protect myself? There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 or specific treatment for it. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. However you can take the following actions to help people at high risk for developing serious illness from Covid-
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; and before and after coming in contact with others
- Stay home as much as possible
- Make sure you have access to several weeks of medication and supplies in case you need to stay home for prolonged periods of time
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, including doorknobs, light switches, keyboards, countertops, phones, handles, faucets, sinks, and toilets
If you must go out in public:
- Stay at least 6 feet away from other people
- Avoid crowded places
- Wear a cloth face covering; be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when removing it; and wash your hands right after removal
*I receive cancer treatment at a medical facility. What should I do about getting treatment?
If you are receiving treatment for your cancer, please call your health care provider before going to your next treatment appointment and follow their guidance. As health care systems adjust their activities to address COVID-19, doctors treating cancer patients may also have to change when and how cancer treatment and follow-up visits are carried out. The risk of missing a cancer treatment or medical appointment must be weighed against the possibility of exposing a patient to infection.
Some cancer treatments can be safely delayed, whereas others cannot. Some routine follow-up visits may be safely delayed or conducted through telemedicine. If you take oral cancer drugs, you may be able to have prescribed treatments sent directly to you, so you don’t have to go to a pharmacy. A hospital or other medical facility may ask you to go to a specific clinic, away from those treating people sick with coronavirus.
The coronavirus situation is changing daily, so check with your provider as needed.
*What should I do if I have symptoms of an infection?
Call your health care provider immediately if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and have symptoms of an infection.
Macmillan Cancer Support.
National Cancer Institute
American Cancer Society