During the coronavirus pandemic, hospitals across the world have been forced to turn away patients suffering from other illnesses, in order to focus their full attention on controlling the COVID-19 outbreak. Since the second wave of the coronavirus has started to emerge, HCPs have had an added influence to halt non-essential surgeries, to preserve hospital beds, for the flooding of patients that has been reported all over the world. In the U.S., the LA Times has reported doctors have prepared for life-altering decisions, on how to best distribute hospital resources, such as ventilators, surgical equipment, and N95 respiratory masks.
One group of patients that have been particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, are cancer patients. Certain types of cancer treatments require chemotherapy, which weaken your immune system, causing an increased risk of contracting the viral disease. It is estimated nearly 2 million people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer this year, with more than 600,000 of them needing to receive chemotherapy. At the American Cancer Society, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Len Lichtenfield, has heard from patients across the country, that their procedures and treatments are being delayed. Due to unpredicted circumstances hospitals and their HCPs are making decisions based on the severity of the virus in their area. The American Cancer Society has recommended that routine cancer screenings be delayed for now. Even though guidelines have been published by the American College of Surgeons, for how to triage surgical care for cancer patients, like most other illnesses, it depends on the resources the hospital has available to them. It has been reported that HCPs have uncontrollably had to avoid procedures that would keep cancer patients in hospitals for a prolonged period.
If you have cancer, how to prevent yourself from getting infected:
It is important to note, that while many media outlets have begun to report that a COVID-19 vaccine is nearly complete, it may take a while for the vaccine to be available and dispersed to the general public, making it imperative to still follow the same guidelines that the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released. Avoid touching of your nose, face, and mouth, practice social distancing, avoid person-to-person contact whenever possible, self-quarantine, and practice proper hygiene, such as washing your hands thoroughly and often.
If you are currently taking treatment, and what to do if you have symptoms:
If you are currently on a treatment plan, get in touch with your local HCP, make sure your procedures haven’t been cancelled or delayed, and find out how your local medical facility has adjusted to the outbreak, that way you are prepared next time you visit. If you believe you have become infected with the virus, it is imperative you contact your HCP immediately and set up an appointment to get tested and remember to stay as far away from people as possible.
The National Information Services (NSI), can answer all your COVID-19 questions. You can reach them at 1-800-422-6237; Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., with information being provided in both English and Spanish.