Scientists are updating their knowledge about coronavirus with evolving of the COVID 19 pandemic. Medical experts have noticed that older adults and people suffering from few major diseases like heart disease and cancer have a higher risk from COVID 19. The recent raising of the COVID 19 curve due to the spreading of infection creates a panic situation for cancer patients and their caregivers. But sufficient precautionary measures can prevent coronavirus infections.
Cancer patients have a higher risk from COVD-19 infection. The chances of increasing severity of their condition from COVID-19 are higher because of weakening immune system, medication load, and age factor. Blood cancer patients have a risk of prolonged infection and death People with blood cancers may be at higher risk of prolonged infection and death from COVID-19 than cancer patients with solid tumors.
The Covid-19 mostly affects the lungs and causes respiratory symptoms. But in moderate to severe infection conditions, lungs are not working fully. Subsequently, this causes difficulty for cardiovascular functioning. The heart needs to work harder than the health condition to pump out oxygen-rich blood around the body. Therefore, people often face oxygen deficit conditions during COVID-19. Hemoglobin inactivity in blood cancer patients causes additional stress.
Cancer patients with blood cancer often have compromised immune functioning because of the abnormality of the immune cells. Consequently, it leads to impairment of antibody production against viruses. Currently, medical researchers work hard to understand the best possible way to safeguard cancer patients so that clinicians can treat them accordingly. But yet now no detailed knowledge obtains to estimate the heightening of risk in cancer patients from Covid-19. A cancer patient can discuss with a doctor their concern for COVID-19 infection.
Why cancer patients need extra care during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Different clinical data from various countries found that cancer patients have a little higher risk than healthy human beings. Cancer patients are usually immune-compromised and unable to fight against diseases like healthy individuals. Most elderly people with cancer also have other co-morbid conditions like heart diseases, diabetes, hypertension, etc. Therefore, their body general body defense mechanism is also weaker than the healthy individuals. If cancer patients are infected due to Covid-19 infection, then the possibility of organ-related complications increases because of implantation of radiation therapy or chemotherapy that suppresses the immunity.
Precautionary measures for cancer patients
All individuals including cancer patients should follow the general precautionary measures against coronavirus infection. General precautionary measures for COVID-19 include frequent washing of hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, using a 60% alcohol-containing hand sanitizer, wearing a mask, practice social distancing, avoid eyes, nose, and mouth touching with unwashed hands, clean and touched surfaces need to disinfect frequently in a daily basis, etc.
Clinically cancer patients are divided into three categories:
- Patients who are under Maintenance Therapy
- Patients who are under Active therapy
- Patients being planned for the treatment
There is no evidence found that cancer patients who have completed their treatment and are cancer-free but taking maintenance therapy like in the case of breast cancer patients taking hormonal therapy do not have a higher risk of COVID-19 infection. Such patients need to follow general precautionary measures along with normal routine life without a panic attack.
A doctor can decide whether it will be the right decision to delay the proposed chemotherapy until the graph is coming down to avoid COVID-19 exposure for patients in an early stage of cancer. The healthcare team should also communicate the same with patients. However, doctors need to critically analyze the risk of delaying the scheduled chemotherapy. If the treatment cannot be postponed, then extra precautionary care like wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and other necessary actions can help continue the proposed treatment plan.