Cancer Survivors, Caregivers: Stop the Spread of the Coronavirus

April 4, 2020

Patients and their loved ones should take certain precautions to protect themselves from the coronavirus, according to the CDC.

Cancer treatments can weaken an individual’s immune system, which is why it is particularly important for survivors — and their family members and caregivers – to take certain precautions to protect their health during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Patients and their caregivers should keep an eye out for fevers. If anyone has a temperature of 100.4 degrees F or higher, they should call their healthcare provider immediately. Additionally, if a family member runs a fever or has any other symptoms of being sick, they should isolate themselves from the cancer survivor. If possible, they should stay in a different household — or different rooms if that is not possible – and find someone else to care for the patient.

Survivors must also remember that chemotherapy weakens the immune system, and infection during treatment can be serious. The time when patients are most at-risk tends to be between seven and 12 days after each treatment, and can last about a week, according to the CDC.

The doctor should be called immediately if any of the following symptoms are noticed:

  • Fever (this is sometimes the only sign of an infection).

  • Chills and sweats.
  • Change in cough or a new cough.
  • Sore throat or new mouth sore.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Nasal congestion.
  • Stiff neck.
  • Burning or pain with urination.
  • Unusual vaginal discharge or irritation.
  • Increased urination.
  • Redness, soreness, or swelling in any area, including surgical wounds and ports.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Pain in the abdomen or rectum.
  • New onset of pain.

Another simple yet effective precaution survivors and loved ones can take is washing their hands thoroughly and often. “Many diseases are spread by not cleaning your hands, which is especially dangerous when you’re getting chemotherapy treatment. Wash your hands often,” the CDC wrote.

Finally, social distancing can also prevent the spread of the coronavirus and other illnesses. The CDC recommends not leaving the house if possible. If someone does need to go out, the agency states that they should stay at least six feet from others, and avoid places where people congregate.

“If you are one of the people at increased risk for serious COVID-19 illness because of a cancer diagnosis, it’s especially important for you to take action to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 now,” the CDC said.


x