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Managing COVID-19 In Cancer Patients

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Managing COVID-19 In Cancer Patients

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Cancer patients are impacted by the pandemic as they are at a higher risk of COVID-19. Read the article to know how to manage COVID-19 in cancer patients.

Published At June 26, 2021
Reviewed AtJanuary 12, 2023

What Is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a severe illness caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). SARS-CoV-2 is responsible for this global pandemic. It has resulted in a number of deaths worldwide. The virus spreads from one person to another person through respiratory droplets. A person gets infected with the Coronavirus when he inhales the respiratory droplets from the infected person’s mouth or nose while coughing or sneezing.

What Is the Incubation Period for COVID-19?

The symptoms of COVID-19 start to appear after two to fourteen days of exposure to the virus. An infected person spreads the virus to other people who are in close contact. A person infected with the virus can still be a carrier of the infection even if he does not show any symptoms.

What Are the Symptoms to Look For in COVID-19?

The symptoms of COVID-19 are the following:

  • Fever.

  • Headache.

  • Loss of smell and taste.

  • Cough.

  • Difficulty in breathing.

  • Sore throat.

  • Congestion or runny nose.

  • Body pain.

  • Muscle ache.

  • Diarrhea.

  • Nausea and vomiting.

Are Patients With Cancer At a Higher Risk of COVID-19?

Patients with cancer have a weakened immune system. Their body’s immune system will not be able to fight against the infection. So they are prone to infections. If cancer patients get infected with the virus, they will have a poor prognosis. So it is necessary to take extra care during this pandemic situation.

Is It Safe to Take Treatment for Cancer During This Pandemic?

When a person is undergoing treatment for cancer, the doctor will weigh the risks and the benefits of treatment and will discuss it with him. The doctor will consider how urgent the treatment is and will treat accordingly. In certain cases delaying the treatment could be life-threatening or have serious complications. But in certain cases delaying the treatment will not pose serious effects. According to the type of treatment you are taking, the doctor will decide accordingly. So it is necessary to discuss with the healthcare professional.

Patients on Chemotherapy

Certain cancer drugs weaken the immune system. Cancer patients should consult the doctor regarding the cancer drug treatment so that the number of clinical visits can be minimized accordingly.

Patients on Radiotherapy

Usually, people on radiotherapy can continue with the treatment depending on certain factors like:

  • Type and stage of cancer.

  • How fast the cancer is spreading or growing.

The healthcare professional will follow all the necessary guidelines and precautions to protect the patient and as well as the technicians from contracting COVID infection.


The healthcare professionals will consider the risks of delaying the surgery and will decide based on the health condition and the type and stage of cancer. The healthcare professional will discuss the risks of getting infected with COVID-19 on a longer stay in hospitals.

What Precautions Should Be Taken Before and After the Surgery?

  • Isolate 14 days before and after the surgery.

  • Get a COVID-19 test done before the surgery. It is recommended to have a negative RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) test twice before surgery.

  • Consult the healthcare professional and try to minimize the stay in the hospital.

  • Make sure to make an appointment over the phone for the surgery and get it confirmed.

  • Try to avoid public transport when visiting the hospital.

  • Cover the nose and mouth by wearing a mask.

  • Disinfect the area that is used by others, like lift buttons, door handles, and public seating areas.

  • Avoid touching the face, mouth, or eyes unnecessarily without washing the hands.

Stem Cell Transplants:

Usually, after a stem cell transplant, the patient is at a higher risk of contracting COVID infection. A person will have a stem cell transplant only after high doses of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy itself stops the bone marrow from making the required amount of white blood cells (WBC). WBC plays a major role in protecting the body against infections. So this gets impaired when not enough WBCs are produced.

What Precautions Should Be Followed Against Coronavirus?

There are no special precautions to be taken for patients with cancer. They are similar to the general precautions and guidelines such as,

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water.

  • Wash hands after sneezing or blowing the nose.

  • Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever going out.

  • Disinfect the areas that are commonly used by others before and after using them. Commonly touched surfaces like door handles, lift switches, and public seating areas.

  • Wear a mask whenever going out.

  • Wear double masks when attending any public gatherings or meetings.

  • Wear a mask indoors if living with someone who has the symptoms of COVID-19.

  • Maintain a social distance of minimum six feet.

  • One should bathe daily and keep themselves very clean and hygienic.

  • Get fully vaccinated witha booster dose as well when eligible.

These are some ways that one needs to follow to keep themselves protected against this deadly virus.

Is It Safe for Patients With Cancer to Take COVID-19 Vaccines?

COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any live virus, so it is safe to get vaccinated. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) has recommended everyone above the age of 16 years should get vaccinated, so this includes patients with cancer. With successful trials, now vaccination for COVID is recommended even for kids aged five years and above.

How to Cope with Cancer During the Pandemic?

Everybody will be anxious at this point in time. The best strategy is to cope with the fear and worries. It is not wrong to take support from others.

  • Follow a routine.

  • Have a healthy and nutritious diet.

  • Take plenty of fluids and stay hydrated.

  • Try to avoid practicing unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking alcohol, etc.

  • Keep oneself active.

  • Spend quality time with the family.

  • Try to avoid having visitors or strangers.

  • People can still remain connected with the friends through phone calls or video calls.

  • Keep the rooms ventilated.

  • People can use this platform of telemedicine if they have any queries regarding their health or diet.

  • Though lockdowns and restrictions have slowly loosened from time to time, one should not consider it as a chance to move out of homes unless it is absolutely necessary.


COVID-19 has made everyone anxious and worried. There may be a lot of changes in the appointments and treatment. Do not worry. Follow all the necessary precautions and guidelines to keep oneself protected against this Coronavirus.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Many Days Does It Usually Take To Present Symptoms After COVID-19 Exposure?

COVID 19 is the infectious coronavirus disease caused by the virus called SARS COV 2. The symptoms can be mild to moderate and sometimes deadly. The person can encounter the symptoms within two to fourteen days after exposure to the COVID-19 virus. The possible symptoms of COVID-19 include chills and fever. 


Can Corona Virus Be Contagious Before Showing Symptoms?

An individual with COVID-19 infection can be contagious for about 48 hours before experiencing symptoms. The clinical research describes that people infected with coronavirus can transmit it to others within two to three days before the initiation of symptoms. But, asymptomatic individuals are more likely to spread the infection due to a lack of awareness and preventive measures.


How Long Can One Be Contagious After COVID-19 Sick?

The person is considered contagious or infectious in the first five days after experiencing the first symptoms. Therefore, one should consider oneself most contagious in the first five days and take isolating care and preventive measures. Also, one can be contagious for about 48 hours before symptoms begin. 


What Is the Omicron Incubation Period?

Omicron is a variant form of the virus SARS-COV-2. It is considered one of the most transmissible variants for children and adults of all ages. The incubation period of omicron is about three days. So, this shows that the incubation period of omicron is much shorter than the previously found variants. 


Can One Be Still Contagious After Five Days of COVID?

The infection associated with COVID generally diminishes after five days of the first symptom. But, this depends upon the individual's state since people have distinct immune responses and can transmit the virus for varied spans. It is vital to take precautions for a minimum of ten days. 


How Will the Sore Throat Be Associated With COVID?

A sore throat is considered one of the most common signs of any respiratory infection. The sore throat associated with COVID can feel like a common sore throat issue and seasonal allergy. This makes it quite challenging to interpret the difference between the common cold and the mild stage of COVID. COVID infection possesses additional symptoms in the respiratory tract. 


How About the COVID Headache?

Headache is one of the primary symptoms experienced with the COVID infection. The headache associated with COVID can be moderate or severe in intensity with a pulsing feel. The pain generally radiates on both sides to the areas around the eyes. This form of headache shows poor responses to retail medications. 


Can One Be COVID Positive One Day and Negative the Other Day?

The right time to test is three to five days after exposure to a COVID-positive person. The antibody test might not indicate if one has an infection currently. This is because humans generally take one to three weeks after infection to produce antibodies. So, the results might vary. 


When Will COVID Worse?

The COVID symptoms progress from mild to severe states in about ten days. COVID causes symptoms that are mild in the first few days. These symptoms can progress more intensely within five to seven days. The worsening of COVID infection indicates symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath. 


Can One Test COVID Negative and Be Contagious?

The negative testing of COVID indicates one is not infectious on that particular day. Nevertheless, the negative test indication does not validate that one does not have COVID-19 infection. In addition, there is still a possibility that one can turn out to be contagious. It is always recommended to follow the cautions and care. 


How Can One Rapidly Get Rid of COVID?

The initial stage of COVID is usually mild and goes away within one week with appropriate care and isolation. One can sleep well, drink plenty of fluids, and take the prescribed medications. Rest is a good measure of recovery by any means. Diarrhea and vomiting associated with COVID-19 can cause rapid dehydration, so one must take plenty of liquids. 


What Are the Early Signs for the Identification of the Corona Virus?

The early days of COVID infection are generally mild in case. The person could encounter any of the following symptoms.
- Cough.
- Fever.
- Chills.
- Fatigue.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Headache.
- Body aches.
- Sore throat.
- Loss of smell and taste sensations. 


What Are the First Signs of COVID?

Cough is one of the profound concerns in cases of COVID. It is a symptom that can be experienced in the early stages. Most individuals with COVID infection experience a dry cough. They could predominantly feel the cough in the chest. 


How Long Does It Take to Test Negative?

It takes a minimum of five days to test negative after the COVID infection. If in cases of asymptomatic infection, one must isolate for about five days right after the first positive testings. Then, one can retest. Most cases will begin to test negative between five days and two weeks after the first positive result, depending on the infection's intensity. 
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Dr. Chithranjali Ravichandran
Dr. Chithranjali Ravichandran



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