A common question among my patients in this time of rising COVID-19 numbers is “Are there any special precautions that we should take?” This article summarizes our advice to cancer patients and survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
First, just like everyone else, people with cancer should follow all safety protocols against coronavirus, including:
- Social distancing
- Hand hygiene
- Vaccination. (see this post on COVID-19 vaccination)
Next, specifically for cancer patients, we recommend
- Not to delay or skip hospital visits for cancer care because of the fear of COVID-19. During the previous waves of COVID, there were many delays and interruptions in non-COVID healthcare, including cancer care. Remember that cancer progression is relentless and will not wait for the pandemic to go away.
- During hospital visits, take special care to wear your mask properly and follow hand hygiene. For routine follow-up visits, check with your doctor whether a virtual consultation is possible.
- Family members and visitors should take adequate care as well to ensure they don’t contract and pass on COVID to the person affected with cancer.
- Follow your oncologist’s advice regarding taking the COVID vaccine and its timing in your context.
Not only can complications of COVID be more severe in the immunocompromised cancer patient, getting COVID can also interrupt cancer treatment, leading to compromised oncological outcomes.
With a commonsense approach and patience to never let down your guard, most people with cancer should be able to tide over the COVID pandemic uneventfully.