How COVID-19 Is Complicating Life For Cancer Patients
Cancer treatment can be a grueling and heartbreaking challenge, both physically and mentally. Battling cancer during a global pandemic adds a whole new dimension to those challenges. It creates additional stress for you and more worries for your family and friends. Cancer treatment centers have initiated changes to processes and protocols meant to protect vulnerable cancer patients. Whether you're new to this journey or have been traveling it for a while, here are some basics that can alleviate some fear and uncertainty during these trying times.
Why COVID-19 Poses a Problem for Cancer Patients
COVID-19 is a brand-new coronavirus strain, and although researchers continue to learn more about it every day, there is still much they don't understand. One of the most significant things they do know is that it affects everyone differently. According to numerous experts, at least 45% of COVID-19 infections may be asymptomatic. That may be nice for those infected, but it makes it more difficult to keep it from spreading and makes it more difficult for cancer patients to avoid infection.
The two primary reasons why the virus is such a threat to cancer patients are a weakened immune system and the threat of serious complications if infected. Chemotherapy and other medications can decrease the body's ability to produce white blood cells that fight off infection, making the person more susceptible to COVID-19 infection. If a cancer patient does contract the virus, he or she is more likely to suffer serious complications such as pneumonia.
How Cancer Patients Can Reduce Exposure
As with the entire population, there are measures you can take to reduce exposure to the virus. However, for cancer patients, these measures are vitally important:
- Practice social distancing, and when that isn't possible, wear a mask.
- Wash hands frequently and use sanitizer when washing isn't convenient.
- Disinfect countertops, doorknobs, phones, and other surfaces you touch frequently.
- Avoid airplane or public transportation, even to cancer appointments.
- Avoid people who are sick, and require your family and caregivers to do so as well.
If you need to keep a treatment or follow-up appointment, call your cancer center and follow their required protocols and procedures. If you are showing any symptoms of illness, cancel your cancer appointment and seek immediate treatment from your primary doctor in conjunction with your cancer care team. When you do visit your cancer care center, you'll find the facility is taking extreme measures to reduce the threat of exposure to patients and their families as well as staff members.
For more information, speak with the staff at a cancer center.