Commonly asked questions about Cancer Management during Corona Outbreak in India —

1.Is a patient with cancer, at higher risk of severe consequences of COVID-19?

A recent study in Lancet, showed that patients who underwent treatment for cancer in the past month had a higher risk compared to those who had not received recent treatment. The risk appears to be higher in patients with more than one chronic medical condition. 

2.Should the cancer treatment be delayed in the present CoVid outbreak?

Patients should talk with their treating oncologist about the risks of postponing treatment versus the potential benefit of decreasing their infection risk. Things to discuss include the goals of cancer treatment, the likelihood that the cancer will be controlled with the treatment being planned, the intensity and side effects of the cancer treatment, and the supportive care that is available to reduce the side effects of treatment.

3.Should a survivor of cancer who is on follow up with imaging and other tests to detect recurrence, keep getting them done?

In general, as recommended, any hospital visits that can be postponed without risk to the patient should be postponed. This includes routine follow ups to detect recurrence. If the patient develops a new symptom that might indicate cancer recurrence he should contact his cancer care team and not wait for the next scheduled evaluation.

  1. Should cancer survivors follow the general public health recommendations issued ?

Absolutely. The general public health recommendations issued by the Govt need to be followed. Things like keeping social distance, frequent and proper hand washing, avoiding large crowds, keeping surfaces clean and disinfected, and not touching your face when your hands need to be followed stricltly

  1. If a cancer patient or cancer survivor have some symptoms such as fever or cough, who should they contact ?

If on active cancer treatment, then you should contact your treating oncologist by phone and make any arrangements as needed. If not on active treatment, then cancer survivors should contact their primary care doctor by phone.

  1. If I have a delay in care, or if for some reason I need to change my doctors, then what should I keep in mind?

If you need to change providers you should arrange for copy of your medical records for your new doctor. But generally important records are  such as the pathology report, summaries of any surgeries or radiation treatment performed are given to you and they can be shared with the new provider.

  1. What else can I do to help fight COVID19?

You should follow the recommendations of your care team and general recommendations for a healthy lifestyle. Don’t use tobacco products, eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and follow public health guidelines on social distancing and hand washing. And most importantly, stay positive.