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Cancer Patients And COVID-19

We are well aware of COVID-19, that has been declared as a pandemic and several nations including India have taken measures at all levels to contain it. It goes without saying again, that the people are the ultimate instruments in this battle and we all can contain the virus to minimise the harm to ourselves. That is possible with our total commitment, preparation, awareness, knowledge and actions. The precautions need to be followed meticulously without any laxity till we win over the situation.

There has been a publication of COIVD 19 infections and deaths from china based on their recent experience in Lancet Oncology (Mar 2020 issue) with a special mention about cancer patients. The authors (Wenhua Lian et al) made certain observations based on a small number of cancer patients and survivors in their study.

 

  1. Incidence of COVID-19 infection was higher than in general population.
  2. Lung cancer was the most frequent type of cancer associated with the infection.
  3. Cancer patients were older than non-cancer patients.
  4. These cancer patients had more incidents of sever events
  5. The outcome in cancer patients was poorer than others.

 The authors made some recommendations:

  1. All cancer patients should take more precautions, especially elder patients and diabetics.
  2. In case of any infections, you must report to your oncologist immediately without any delay.
  3. In case the infections are more in the nearby locations, discussions should be done with the treating oncologist about the strategies.
  4. In the unfortunate event of contracting an infection, more vigilance and intensive therapy should be required in order to prevent poor outcome.

However, it must be noted that these observations as well as recommendations are based on a small number of cancer patients and be given due relevance. Also I would like to emphasize that it is not COVID 19 infections, alone, but we must be mindful of and guard against other opportunistic and seasonal infections.  Simple precautions to be taken as follows:

  1. Regular and proper hand washes with soap and water especially after food, touching any new objects is the best precaution. Use of hand sanitisers is equally effective.
  2. Keeping safe distance of five feet from a person with any sign of infection or flu type symptoms.
  3. Not touching the face, mouth, eyes, nose with unwashed hand.
  4. Maintain hygiene while coughing and sneezing by covering your nose and mouth.
  5. Avoid unnecessary travel and remain at home as much as possible.
  6. Eat and drink (water) as usual. No additional supplements are required. There is no proven immune boosters!
  7. Must do regular exercise and deep breathing exercises.
  8. If you have any symptom of fever, flu symptoms, cough, breathlessness, telephonically consult your doctor immediately.
  9. Use of gloves, masks caps, hot water are NOT beneficial.

To conclude, if you are a cancer patient undergoing treatment, please take adequate precautions and there is no need to get scared or panic about it. If you are on a follow-up and due for tests, please postpone it unless you are unwell. Be cool and be in touch with your oncologist. Stay away from rumors. Stay safe and wish you a corona free time!