Due to the sudden outbreak of Coronavirus or COVID-19, many cancer patients are likely to face a dilemma, whether or not to continue with radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Amid the Global Pandemic COVID-19, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) proposed that there is no direct evidence to support withholding immunotherapy or chemotherapy in cancer patients. Therefore, postponing immunosuppressive or chemotherapy is not recommended. Oncologists at CancerRounds have years of experience in this field and make treatment decisions following the guidelines by ASCO. The treatment plan will be based on each patient, and factors like the type of cancer, cancer stage, and the risk of cancer recurrence.
Talking about the same, cancer patients are at a greater risk of getting affected by COVID-19 as their immune system is less resistant to the Coronavirus. This has put both oncologists and patients in a difficult situation. Chemotherapy medications, however, destroy healthy white blood cells that protect against viruses such as coronavirus, so halting chemotherapy will place patients with cancer at a much greater risk of tumor growth and may lessen their survival.
Postponing cancer treatment to avoid a potential infection with COVID-19 can be fatal in many patients. Therefore, patients on chemotherapy, should call their Oncologist and talk to him/her before postponing treatment by himself.
Since all health care providers adjust their activities to address COVID-19, doctors who treat cancer patients may also need to change when and how cancer therapy and follow-up visits can be conducted. Oncologists at CancerRounds will weigh the risk of failing a cancer treatment, the side effects of chemotherapy to cancer patients exposed to COVID-19, and find a workable treatment plan taking into consideration all the precautions and guidelines given by the Government.
For other patients, unless they are exposed/showing symptoms of COVID-19 or tested positive, they should continue with Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy.
Cancer patients knowing to have a compromised immune system should take a few extra steps and precautions to lower their exposure to the coronavirus. Staying at home, using hand sanitizer and gloves, following social distancing guidelines, and following rigorous hygiene is vital for cancer patients to protect themselves from getting infected by COVID-19. It may be acceptable to postpone routine or some avoidable follow-up visits of cancer patients, but should constantly be in touch with the Oncologist on the telephone and do the needful when required.