You may be at a higher risk group if you have cancer, have had cancer, underlying health conditions that can make you severely ill with COVID-19. How your immune system works might not be as strong as it was before cancer. Lots of cancer treatments make the immune system weak. Diet changes, stress, and sleep problems may as well impact your immune system. Having a weak immune system makes it harder for you to fight infections. It also makes you more likely to have a disease if you do become infected.
WHAT TO DO TO LOWER YOUR RISK
You can follow these safety measures to help lower your risk. Share these as well with other people you live with to do the same:
- Stay at home as much as you can.
- Keep at least 6 feet of space between yourself and other people.
- Wear a face mask.
- Avoid crowds when you do go out.
- When sneezing or coughing, consider using a tissue or your elbow instead of your hand. Make sure to wash your hands after or even after you’ve been to public places.
- Wash your hands regularly.
- If you can’t use water and soap, hand sanitizer is an option. Use the one that contains at least 60% alcohol. Rub it on all parts of your hands and let it air dry.
- Try to not touch your mouth, nose, or eyes unless you’ve just washed your hands.
- Clean all surfaces you touch a lot. Use regular household cleaning wipes or spray.
OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO
If you are having your cancer treatment in the present, talk to your cancer treatment team about when you should call them and what you must watch for. Be sure you know how to reach them on weekends, on holidays, or after office hours. Also;
- Stay away from anyone who appears to be sick.
- Be extra careful about following the recommendations made by the local health authorities to help lower your risk of infection.
- Make sure you have enough medication at home.
- Make a list of emergency numbers that you might need so you have them all in one handy place, just in case.
DOES CANCER TREATMENT WEAKEN IMMUNE SYSTEM?
Chemotherapy affects your entire body including your immune system. This treatment kills cancer cells and lowers the number of white blood cells that fight with the infection. You are at high risk of infection when your white blood cell counts are lowest. It happens if you’re on your treatment cycle.
Cancer treatment is very important. Consider knowing the benefits of treatment against your risks from the coronavirus disease. You can ask your doctor about any options to help you decide what to do about during this time with your cancer treatment. You might be able to wait with some kind of cancer if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer but haven’t started treatment yet. Talk with your doctor to better understand your cancer, how fast it’s growing, and how treatment might impact your risk for infection.