As the entire community fights against the Corona Virus, Cancer patients in any part of the world need to be doubly protected. They are actually at a two-fold higher risk of contracting COVID infection than the general population. While the severe form of this infection which is seen in 8% of the normal population, can be as high as 40% in the cancer patients. This increased susceptibility is scientifically explained through a poorly functioning immune system either because of the disease per se or because of the side effects of the treatment.. It is also seen that patients who have advanced cancer will be at a much higher risk for bad outcomes if they are infected.
The major hinderance which we see during the lockdown period will be in the difficulty in accessing the medical care due to travel restrictions. So, it is important to be in touch with your treating personnel and also learn the various preventive measures to adopt during this crisis.
Till date we have no specific guidelines to specify on the treatment management of Cancer patients in the background of coronavirus outbreak. Elective surgeries for cancer patients can be rescheduled if possible, but it’s the oncologists to look into the potential harm of delaying the needed surgery.
Cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy, or who have been planned for it, the decision to postpone would be keeping in mind the risk / benefit assessment.
There is no direct evidence to support changing or withholding chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy in Cancer patients. The clinical decision should be individualised taking cancer recurrence into account if therapy is delayed, modified or interrupted. Some may have to switch over from iv chemotherapy to oral drugs or some may consider infusion at home.
Cancer patients must be aware of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19. 60-80% of the infected patients may be asymptomatic. Therefore it’s clinical implication will be that these individuals unknowingly will be harbouring the disease and infecting many more people around.
Symptoms : In a large chunk of the population , appear on the 11 – 12th Day. Sudden onset fever, dry cough, muscular pain and breathlessness will be seen in most patients. While nasal blockade, sneezing or sore throat appear in a small proportion of the patients. Loss of olfaction, loss of taste, rashes on the feet or the lower limb are other lesser known symptoms. Convulsions, headache, abdominal aches, diarrhoea etc. are other atypical presentations. It is seen that 80% exhibit mild symptoms while 20% will have severe symptoms .
1.Hand hygiene to be reiterated.
Washing your hands liberally with soap and water is a good way. But if sanitizer is being used, it should have an alcohol content of at least 60% and should be performed for a minimum of 20seconds. Hand dryers are NOT effective in killing the virus neither are the ultraviolet lamps. They may cause irritation of the skin instead of doing any good.
Use disposable tissues whenever you sneeze or cough. No need to regularly douche the nasal orifices.
3.Social distancing as always emphasized. Ask every visitor to wash hands and maintain a distance of 2 meters between you and themselves.
4.Refill your medicines before they finish.
5.Keep yourself physically active at home.
6.Wear a mask whenever you move out. But do not assume that every face mask gives a 100% protection against the virus. So it’s better to restrict your outdoor movements.
1.Do not ask visitors who have Corona Virus to call you. This will avoid unnecessary panic.
2.Not more than two visitors at a time.
3.Do not shake hands.
4.Do not isolate yourself from friends and family.
As of now, there is No Role of Prophylactic anti-virals (chloroquine, lopinavir, ramdesivir, favipiravir). No trial supports it in the prophylactic setting.Keep your BP, Diabetes AND HEART issues under control. Abstain from smoking or drinking .
Diet to be restricted to home cooked stuff only. It is essential that the food is to be properly washed and cooked. Avoid spicy foodstuffs and take a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Diets with low carbohydrates, moderate and good quality proteins and good fats is advocated. Take a lot of vitamin -C rich foodstuff.Above all Refrain yourself from negative news.
Since Nothing is permanent, Don’t stress yourself too much because no matter how bad the situation may be it will change.
STAY HOME, STAY SAFE AND TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF