Covid-19, which has spread to the entire globe and declared as a pandemic, poses more severe risk for those with chronic diseases. So, how are cancer patients affected from coronavirus? How can they be protected against coronavirus? All details in the interview made with Professor Aziz Yazar, M.D, Medical Oncology specialist in Acıbadem Healthcare Group Turkey.
Cancer patients should be particularly careful against Covid-19!
First coronavirus infection secondary to SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19), which is a variation Coronavirus family, was seen in China in December 2019 and has spread around the entire globe leading to a pandemic (an infection which spreads to a wide area in more than one country or continent). Covid-19 rapidly became widespread around the globe and started causing risk for cancer patients in the area.
Who are under more risk due to Covid-19?
Effects of Coronavirus are more severe in individuals with a chronic disease (heart failure, kidney failure, COPD, hypertension, diabetes etc.). Cancer patients and those who receive cancer treatment should be added to this group. Probability of hospitalization is higher for individuals with cancer when they are infected with coronavirus. Mortality risk secondary to infection increases.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus in cancer patients?
The most prominent signs of Covid-19 are fever, severe fatigue, cough and shortness of breath. Similar symptoms are also expected for cancer patients in the event of coronavirus infection.
What is the typical course of Covid-19 in cancer patients?
In normal circumstances, most individuals recover from Covid-19 without the need of hospitalization with experiencing mild or moderate symptoms. However, in the event of coronavirus, risk of shortness of breath and organ failure which should require hospitalization increases for individuals with cancer, which affects the immune system, and those who receive cancer treatment. Therefore, mortality risk also increases.
If the cancer treatment is completed…
It is highly possible that the immune system of individuals, who completed cancer treatment one or more years ago, returned to normal levels. It is expected that the risk level of coronavirus infection for these individuals is similar with their peers.
Does coronavirus interferes with cancer treatment?
It is necessary to pause cancer treatment of the patients in the event of Covid-19 occurrence until the symptoms disappear. Pausing the treatment may lead to progression of the disease in types of cancer which show rapid progression rate.
How cancer patients should be protected against coronavirus?
- The vaccine against the virus is yet to be developed. There is no known treatment method which is effective.
- There are no additional measures for cancer patients other than those which are recommended for protection against the virus. These precautions include:
- Avoiding crowded areas.
- Not touching mouth-eyes-nose in outdoor environments.
- Frequently washing hands with soap.
- Cleaning the hands with alcohol containing disinfectants in cases where washing them with soap is not an option.
- Cleaning the surfaces which are contacted frequently with disinfectants.
If Covid-19 is suspected…
Individuals who are infected by Covid-19 should keep themselves in quarantine to avoid infecting others with coronavirus. Consuming plenty of fluids and resting are required. Using masks and cleaning the surfaces they touch with disinfectants are necessary. Hospitalization and supportive treatment might be necessary if complaints worsen.
While doctors and frontline medical staff have shown tremendous courage against global pandemic, treatment of our pediatric oncology patients continues.
To make the little patient accept wearing the treatment mask, doctors from Acıbadem Maslak Hospital in Istanbul, have decided to make him look like a hero.
Not all heroes wear capes, some wear masks.