Coronavirus and cancer

Published: 16 April 2020

Cancer cells

The constant news about the coronavirus can be worrying. This is especially true for those living with cancer who, alongside their friends and families, who will want to take extra care to reduce their risks, as cancer and its treatment can lower your ability to fight infection.

Some people with cancer and those who have received or are receiving certain treatments are more at risk of becoming seriously ill if they contract the COVID-19 infection. These include:

  • people undergoing active chemotherapy
  • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
  • people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
  • people having intensive (radical) radiotherapy for lung cancer
  • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment.

If you are in this category, the NHS will directly contact you with advice about the more stringent measures you should take in order to keep yourself and others safe, this could include shielding. If you believe you fall into this category but haven’t been contacted, you can register yourself on the gov.uk website.

The most important thing for you to do if you’re living with cancer is to follow the advice from the NHS, Government and your healthcare team.

Your doctors will aim to continue with your treatment wherever possible. But they might need to change your treatment or prioritise certain treatments over others.

Talk to your health care team about the effect of the coronavirus outbreak on your treatment plan. They know about your individual situation and will try to work with you to find the best plan for you.

The latest advice

Help with shopping and medicines

Ask friends and family to help you by picking up shopping or organise deliveries if possible. If you don’t have anyone who can help you, get in contact with Derby’s COVID Community Response Hub, who will be able to help. The Derby Direct team will be answering calls on 01332 640000, between 9.00am and 6.00pm, every day.

Deaf people can text 07774333412, and there’s also a dedicated email address that can be contacted; covidsupport@communityactionderby.org.uk

Access to support

Cancer Research UK, and Macmillan have more information, FAQs and guidance about cancer and coronavirus on their websites.

If you have questions, or need to talk to someone, you can call the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday.

The Macmillan Support Line also offers confidential support to people living with cancer and their loved ones, seven days a week between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 0808 808 000

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