What Cancer Patients, Survivors, & Caregivers Need to Know to Reduce Risk of COVID-19 – Interview
CDC Expert Offers Advice
Cancer patients and survivors are among those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 because their immune systems are often weakened by cancer and its treatments.
So, it’s important that people who were recently diagnosed with cancer, currently being treated, or treated in the past take steps to protect their health during this pandemic. This is especially important for cancer patients who are currently being treated with chemotherapy.
Join me in a recenter interview
with Dr. Lisa C. Richardson, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (DCPC), as she discussed what cancer patients and their caregivers need to know to stay well while staying at home during the COVID-19 crisis.
Dr. Richardson outlines the proper steps necessary to help lower the chance of spreading an infection to your family member or friend with cancer.
Listen to the entire interview below:
Tips for Cancer Patients & Survivors:
Watch out for fever. Take your temperature any time you feel warm, flushed, chilled, or not well. If you have a temperature of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher or notice any of the signs and symptoms of an infection, call your doctor BEFORE going to their office or hospital.
Know the signs and symptoms of infection. Infection during chemotherapy can lead to hospitalization or even death.
Call your doctor right away if you notice any of the signs and symptoms of an infection, such as fever, chills, change in cough or new cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, redness, soreness, or swelling in any area, including surgical wounds and ports, diarrhea, or vomiting
Clean your hands and ask those around you to do the same. Many diseases are spread by not cleaning your hands, which is especially dangerous when you’re getting chemotherapy treatment.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place. If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and shared objects between use at least daily.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others to protect other people in case you are infected, and ask others to do the same.
- Avoid other people as much as possible (social distancing). Avoid leaving home as much as possible. Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet (2m) between yourself and other people. If you must leave home, avoid places where people are in groups or crowded. Have supplies and food delivered to your home.
- Use CDC’s Coronavirus Self-Checker to help you make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care
It’s very important for people who live with or take care of people with cancer to take steps to keep themselves healthy as well. All of their actions will impact their loved one’s health and well-being.
Tips for Caregivers & Family Members:
Watch for symptoms of infection: fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, cough, or shortness of breath.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and shared objects between use at least daily.
Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others, especially those who are vulnerable such as cancer patients.
Avoid other people as much as possible (social distancing). Avoid leaving home as much as possible. Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet (2m) between you and other people. If you must leave home, avoid places where people are in groups or crowds. Have supplies and food delivered to your home.
In other scenarios where your loved one is too sick to care for him/herself, it’d be best to look for professional assistance. An excellent option to contemplate is hospice care providers for individualized care. Such a center is essential, particularly during the lockdown – you’ll drastically reduce your loved one’s exposure to covid-19.
You should know that a hospice has its professional team that will take extra precautions to protect their patients. Therefore, your loved one will be in safe hands as far as covid-19 and his/her overall health is concerned. Frankly, it’s impossible to give your loved one the amount of care he/she needs – and it’s okay. Life gets in the way, and your limited knowledge of properly offering care is a critical aspect to mull over.
With that said, you can give your loved one a better chance of survival by using hospice services. Other than that, they will receive quality medical care and assisted living. This will improve their quality of life while giving them a peaceful mind. Besides, your loved one will not need to go to a hospital or shop for groceries – a hospice provides and caters to all these needs. It’s truly an excellent way to care for your family members.
If you become ill, immediately separate yourself from your family member or friend with cancer. If possible, stay away from their home. If you must remain in the same household, isolate yourself in a separate room if possible, with a separate bathroom.
Make arrangements for someone else to care for your family member or friend with cancer.
For more information, go to CDC.gov/Coronavirus
BIO-Lisa C. Richardson, MD, MPH
Director, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Lisa C. Richardson, MD, MPH, is Director of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (DCPC), the largest unit within CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. She oversees the Division’s $355M annual budget and provides strategic leadership for DCPC’s four national programs and cancer control research. Dr. Richardson is trained as a medical oncologist. Dr. Richardson’s research concentrates on breast cancer, cancer treatment delivery, cancer health equity and access to cancer care.
*Courtesy of the CDC Foundation