The COVID-19 outbreak is still new, so doctors do not have a lot of specific information on this coronavirus for cancer patients. But they do have a lot of information regarding the risk of infections in general for cancer patients.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recommends that cancer patients who think they may have been infected with the new coronavirus contact their doctor if they have a fever and other symptoms of a respiratory illness, such as a cough or shortness of breath, particularly if either of the following 2 conditions apply:
- You have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19.
- You live in or have recently traveled to an area known to have an outbreak of the disease.
Doctors at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington note that cancer patients currently receiving treatment and those who are out of treatment need to be “extra cautious” about protecting themselves from getting infected with the new coronavirus. According to Dr. Steve Pergam, a clinical and infectious disease researcher at the center, “Patients with hematologic [blood] malignancies we believe will have the biggest risk… also, patients who are in active chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant patients.”
According to Dr. Gary Lyman, an oncologist and health policy expert also at Fred Hutchinson, “The after-effects of treatment don’t end when people finish their last course of therapy or leave the hospital after surgery. The after-effects of cancer and the immunosuppressive effects of treatment can be long term.”
Story source: The American Cancer Society.
Featured image credit: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM.