Letter to the editor: Protecting people with cancer from coronavirus | SummitDaily.com

Letter to the editor: Protecting people with cancer from coronavirus

Dr. Peter Raich

Over a very short time, we have been flooded with information about this new pandemic infection we are now facing: coronavirus also known as COVID-19. 

But are there added risks faced by people living with cancer, those undergoing treatments for cancer and those recovering from cancer? We need to acknowledge that, because of an impaired immune system caused by the cancer and especially by most cancer treatments, such individuals are at increased risk for infections, including viruses such as coronavirus. These infections are more likely to be life threatening, and this risk is further worsened by coexisting heart or lung disease, diabetes or age over 60.

In the absence of an effective testing and screening program, it is most important to practice thoughtful social distancing. This means staying home and interacting only with few close family members and care givers. Individuals with cancer should avoid restaurants and grocery stores, keep several weeks’ supply of crucial medications and food, and preferably have food supplies delivered to their homes. 

Despite these cautious and strict measures to avoid contact and risk of exposure, we need to remain calm and rational while being prepared. Stay in contact with your oncologist and primary health provider, but avoid the office, hospital and emergency department visits unless specifically instructed by your doctors. If you develop symptoms of coronavirus, contact your doctor most involved in your care for instructions. 

Having access to current and reliable information about the coronavirus pandemic is crucial to allying misplaced fears and to staying healthy during this difficult time. I recommend these trusted information sources:

Coronavirus.gov is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website developed in conjunction with Dr. Anthony Fauci, an expert on viral infections.

Coronavirus.jhu.edu is by the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. 

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