We’re learning new information about the coronavirus every day, but one thing we know for sure is that immunocompromised individuals are more vulnerable to serious complications from the virus. We need to know how to protect those with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients. Here are a few things you should know about cancer and COVID-19.
Who is at Risk?
Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and bone marrow transplants weaken the immune system, so any patient receiving these treatments has a greater risk of developing complications due to COVID-19. Not only do patients with cancer need to take extra precautions, but their family members or caregivers need to as well.
The risk of patients in remission depends on the patient and the situation. Cancer survivors who received treatment in the past should consult their physicians for accurate information regarding their risks.
How can we Protect Immunocompromised Patients?
The best way to protect those with weakened immune systems is to respect social distancing guidelines and stay home. Being in quarantine is difficult, but it’s the most effective way to stop the rapid spread of the virus. When we visit stores and go out in public, we risk exposing ourselves and others along the way. If you need to leave the house for any reason, protect yourself with a facemask or other cloth face covering.
If you’re a caregiver of a cancer patient, disinfect all household items and surfaces frequently. Avoiding non-essential outings and practicing social distancing are imperative. Make sure to wear a facemask that fits properly at all times.
Hands transmit germs easily, so avoid touching your face. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, and use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. If you’re in contact with other people, such as your patient’s family members, try to remain six feet apart as much as possible.
Other Ways to Help
Having a weakened immune system during an aggressive global pandemic can be scary and overwhelming to cancer patients, their families, and their caregivers. Do your part and educate those around you on the increased risk of infection for cancer patients. Teach others the importance of taking these precautions. It’s always helpful to share ways to boost the immune system as well.
If you’re a healthy individual and want to help a cancer patient during this time, there are many ways to do so. You could help by delivering groceries to someone’s doorstep, running an essential errand (such as picking up medications from the pharmacy), or just making yourself available to talk. There are several ways to help while remaining safe and abiding by social distancing guidelines.
Where can I Find More Information?
The National Cancer Institute offers free and accurate information about the effects of COVID-19 on cancer patients. If you are a cancer patient, contact your oncologist or primary care physician, if you have any concerns.
For more information on maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the COVID-19 pandemic, frequently check our blog on the Access Health Care website and follow us on social media.
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