People with cancer and their caregivers need to know how COVID-19 could impact them.
The American Cancer Society in a new article posted online said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing masks that completely cover your nose and mouth when you are out in public. Cloth masks and gaiters, which are cloth coverings that wrap around the nose, mouth and neck, need to have at least two layers of fabric and fit snugly on your face to protect you. The CDC does not offer specific recommendations on masks for those who have or have had cancer and their caregivers. However, for many people receiving treatment for cancer, especially with chemotherapy and stem cell transplants, doctors recommend patients wear masks to help reduce their exposure to germs that might cause infections. If you are unsure about whether you or a caregiver needs to wear a mask, ask your doctor or another member of your cancer care team.
The American Cancer Society says some cancer patients might have a higher risk of serious infection if they contract COVID-19 because their immune systems can be weakened by cancer and treatments for it. Most people who were treated for cancer in the past are likely to see normal immune function but every person is different.
It is especially important for cancer patients to avoid being exposed to COVID-19 as they might be at greater risk of developing serious illness if they become infected. Registries including the COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium and studies including the “NCI COVID-19 in Cancer Patients Study” are collecting data to learn more about cancer patients and COVID-19. To learn more, visit www.cancer.org.