What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 causes due to Coronavirus which is a family of viruses that can cause common colds, as well as more serious respiratory diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). It can be primarily through respiratory droplets that come from coughing or sneezing. Virus has capability to multiply itself. Currently there is no vaccine for COVID-19.
What general preventive measures should people take?
The best way to prevent COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
The following simple preventive measures can help minimize the spread of COVID-19:
- Wash your hands often with soap, lathering both the front and the back of the hands and fingers for at least 15 to 20 seconds. If soap is not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with someone who is ill. (Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet or 1.8 meters).
- Stay at home if you are sick.
- Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze and dispose of it properly afterward.
- Disinfect surfaces and objects you touch frequently.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Are people with cancer at a higher risk?
Cancer patients are considered at more risk because they are at higher risk for serious illness, if they get infected, particularly patients who are in active chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant patients. As their immune systems is severely weakened due to the treatment of cancer.
Chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy can all weaken the immune system and hence increase the risk of getting infected to corona virus. Even patients who are not receiving active cancer treatment need to be cautious as the effects of prior therapy are usually long-lasting.
What extra precautions should breast cancer patients take?
Breast cancer patients should take extra precautions to minimize the risk of getting COVID-19. In addition to the general preventive measures listed above, patients should:
- Stock up on necessary medications and supplies that can last for a few weeks.
- Avoid crowds and non-essential travel.
- Stay at home as much as possible.
- Boosting the immune system by keeping stress levels low, getting adequate sleep, moderate physical exercise, and good nutrition can also be helpful.
- Follow all personal protection initiatives
- In case you develop any symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, sore throat, cough or breathing difficulty report to your doctor immediately.
- For patients on immunotherapy, targeted therapies, anti-angiogenic
therapies, and maintenance therapy, the decision to stop or continue will have to be taken on the basis on consultation with treating oncologist.
Dr. Sumit Shah, Cancer Specialist, provides most advanced breast cancer treatment at affordable cost. He specializes in minimally invasive (key-hole) surgery which includes laparoscopic and function preserving surgery for HNC cancer.