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Cancer patients and coronavirus

Last updated: 2 May 2020 5.40pm

Having cancer may put you at a higher risk of serious illness if you get coronavirus. Some cancer treatments can cause a weak immune system. You need to take extra care to protect yourself.

Follow the advice for people in at-risk groups on how to protect yourself from coronavirus.

You may need to cocoon if you are having certain cancer treatments are have certain types of cancer.

Cancer treatment

Unless you are told not to, go for your treatment as usual if you are having:

  • chemotherapy
  • radiotherapy

Your treatment may change. Your consultant or oncology team will decide any changes. They'll discuss them with you.

Changes may include:

  • changes to your medication
  • a break in treatment
  • a new location for your treatment
  • assessments by phone, where possible

Before going for treatment

Phone the oncology unit before going for treatment if you are:

The oncology unit may also phone you 1 or 2 days before your appointment. This is also to check if you have been in contact with the virus.

Go to appointments without family members or carers, where possible. This is to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the virus.

Avoid arriving early to minimise time spent in hospitals.

If you have coronavirus symptoms

If you have symptoms of coronavirus:

You will need to remain in self-isolation while you wait for your results.

If you have coronavirus you’ll need to say self-isolated until:

  • you have had no fever for 5 days, and
  • it has been 14 days since you first developed symptoms

Your cancer team will decide when you are fit to begin cancer treatment again.

They’ll base this on:

  • how well you are
  • the length of time since you first got sick

This could delay your treatment starting by 2 to 3 weeks. If you are already on treatment, you may have a longer than usual break between treatments.

Looking after your mental health

It is difficult living with cancer during the current uncertainty.

Read advice about minding your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.

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