As with many public health issues, the coronavirus outbreak may pose risks for cancer patients. Here is some information from Nurse Practitioner Candice Job that addresses some of the specific challenges that cancer patients may face during the COVID-19 pandemic, with details on how to protect yourself and what to expect when you visit a Rochester Regional Health Lipson Cancer Institute location for treatment.
Since COVID-19 is a virus, patients with weakened immune systems may be at increased risk because their defenses against the infection are lowered. This includes patients with blood-related cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma which directly affect cells of the immune system and those undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
If you don’t currently have one of the cancers above or are not currently undergoing cancer treatment, you are likely to have normal immune function, but each person is different. It's important for cancer patients and cancer survivors, whether currently in treatment or not, to talk with their doctor who understands their situation and medical history.
Patients over the age of 65 who have cancer or are cancer survivors are more likely to develop severe cases of COVID-19, as are those who also have the following:
Our Lipson Cancer Institute patients should take these actions to reduce their risk of getting sick with the disease:
The symptoms of COVID-19 are often the same in cancer patients as the general population. However, patients being treated with steroids or other medications to treat leukemia or lymphoma may not get a fever or as high a fever as others with the infection.
Many non-urgent visits may be transitioned to telemedicine visits, as deemed appropriate by your provider.
For patients coming to the Lipson Cancer Center, we are screening patients by telephone before their appointment and again upon arrival about any health problems or symptoms they may be experiencing.
It is important to be honest when answering these questions so that everyone at the treatment center can stay safe.
All patients are required to wear a face mask to their visits, ensuring your nose and mouth are covered.
To limit potential exposure to the virus and protect our patients, we currently have a no-visitor policy in place with very limited exceptions. We are happy to call family members or those involved in your care during or following appointments at the request of patients to ensure open communication during this time.
In the treatment room, we are socially distancing patients and staff are wearing face masks and face shields during direct patient care. Our facilities are thoroughly cleaned during patients to keep everyone safe.
Call your Lipson Cancer Institute treatment center to report your symptoms.
If you test positive for COVID-19, your physician will decide on the appropriateness of continued treatments. Continuing treatment depends on a variety of factors, including the type of cancer, the type and stage of treatment, and the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.
There are no recommended supplements, but it’s important to not let yourself get run down. Ensure you are getting adequate sleep, drinking enough fluids, participating in daily physical activity, and eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
We encourage our patients and caregivers to plan ahead as much as possible.
1. Contact your provider about possibly obtaining extra necessary medications. If this is not possible, see if you can have the medications mailed to you or get them through drive-thru instead of picking them up in person.
2. Consider ways to get medications, food, and household supplies brought to your house from your family or social networks to limit exposures.
3. Have enough household items and groceries available so that you limit the time you need to be out of your home. Consider planning meals and shopping for 2-3 weeks at a time.
4. Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies(tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.
5. Be sure to clean and disinfect your home to remove germs, and frequently clean touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, and light switches.
6. Determine who can care for you if your caregiver gets sick, and know how to stay in touch with others through phone or email for any needed help.
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