COVID-19 INFORMATION for CANCER PATIENTS
Are cancer patients at a higher risk of getting sick from COVID-19?
Cancer patients, as with any patient who may be considered to have a suppressed immune system, may be at a higher risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus if exposed. It is strongly advised that the measures detailed below be followed.
What measures can you take to make sure you are as safe as possible?
The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to wash your hands and avoid touching your face. Proper hand washing technique means using soap and water and washing for at least 20 – 30 seconds. You can also use hand sanitizers that contain alcohol.
Limiting public outings as much as possible is also key. Avoid going out to crowded places. Instead, spend time outdoors, in nature, away from crowds.
If you are feeling well, wearing a mask is not necessary. Masks should be used if you are sick to contain respiratory droplets and prevent transmission to others.
Stay away from others who are unwell. If you become sick, stay home. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and wash your hands thoroughly immediately afterwards.
Should you continue attending your appointments and treatments?
If you are feeling well, we advise that it is important to continue your cancer care as scheduled. This includes treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, as well as treatments at IHC.
For follow-up consultation appointments at IHC, our doctors remain available to support you. In addition, we offer phone or Zoom remote consults should you wish to maintain a distance and conduct the visit from home.
Please contact your medical oncologist’s office and IHC to reschedule treatments if:
- You have traveled recently and need to self-isolate for 14 days, or
- You have cold or flu-like symptoms, or
- Have a fever of over 38 degrees Celsius
What are the symptoms of COVID-19? What should you do if you have them?
There is a wide range of possible symptoms, ranging from no symptoms to severe pneumonia and respiratory failure. The symptoms are similar to other respiratory illnesses such as the flu and common cold, and include:
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
If you start experiencing any of the above, please call your GP, nearest walk-in clinic, or IHC for information on what to do next. If your symptoms are severe and include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing and/or chest pain, you will most likely be asked to go to the hospital.
What about American patients? Should they still travel to IHC?
It is hard to forecast whether or not cross-border travel will be possible. Currently, the BC Provincial Health Officer, in partnership with the Government of Canada, has issued a Global Travel Advisory to limit the spread of COVID-19. If you are coming to IHC from the United States, be aware that the current recommendation is for travellers to self-isolate for 14 days after entering Canada if you demonstrate symptoms of fever, cough and/or difficulty breathing, or you have been in contact with someone who has traveled to an infected area.
Because new restrictions may be imposed with little warning, it is important to check the Government of Canada travel website for the most up to date information: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories.
In Summary – Key Points
- Avoid crowded public areas as much as possible
- Wash hands frequently and avoid touching your face
- If you feel well, you should continue with your cancer treatments
- If symptoms of fever, dry cough, and/or difficulty breathing develop, please call your GP, nearest walk-in clinic, or IHC for next steps
Additional Resources – Where to get more information?
The best sources of trustworthy information about COVID-19 are government websites, such as the BC Centre for Disease Control (http://covid-19.bccdc.ca).
We are also here to answer any questions. Please give us a call at 604-888-8325 if you have any concerns or if you’d like to switch any upcoming appointments.
Yours in Health,
The Doctors of Integrated Health Clinic