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Impact of COVID-19 on Cancer Patients and Preventive Steps

Cancer patients need to be very vigilant in the midst of an outbreak of COVID-19 because they are more easily infected with the Coronavirus and experience severe symptoms due to COVID-19. Therefore, proper precautions are needed so that people who have cancer do not get infected with the Coronavirus.

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the Coronavirus. Viruses that attack the respiratory system are more likely to cause infections in people whose immune systems are weak, such as the elderly and cancer sufferers.

According to WHO data, cancer is a chronic disease that is at high risk of causing serious complications due to COVID-19, in addition to heart and blood vessel disease, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases.

What Impacts of COVID-19 Can Cancer Patients Experience?

Cancer and its treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy or radiotherapy, can cause cancerous bone marrow to stop producing white blood cells that act as 'soldiers' that protect the body against infections and certain diseases.

That is why, cancer sufferers will experience a decrease in endurance, so the body is unable to fight infections, including Coronavirus infection.

Besides being more at risk of being infected with the Coronavirus, the following are some of the effects of cancer patients can experience due to COVID-19 disease:

Symptoms of COVID-19 that appear more severe

Some people who are infected with the Coronavirus do not experience any symptoms, while others can experience mild, moderate, or severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Mild flu-like symptoms are generally experienced by adults with a normal immune system. In people who have good endurance, COVID-19 symptoms may not even appear at all.

Unlike the case with cancer sufferers. Symptoms of COVID-19 experienced by people who have cancer or are in cancer treatment can be more severe, such as high fever, chest pain, lips, and nails appearing bluish, shortness of breath, to a decrease in consciousness or coma.

Read Also : Maintaining Mental Health When Coronavirus Pandemic

Risk of dangerous COVID-19 complications

When a cancer patient develops a Coronavirus, his immune system will get weaker. As a result, cancer sufferers with COVID-19 are more at risk of developing several dangerous complications, including:

  • Severe pneumonia
  • Liver damage
  • ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) or respiratory failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart attack
  • Severe infection or sepsis
  • Rhabdomyolysis

Cancer treatment is inhibited

To stop the spread of the Coronavirus, everyone is compromised to undergo physical distancing and stay at home. However, this can make it difficult for cancer patients to get treatment, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or surgery.

Therefore, cancer sufferers need to consult with a doctor who handles it to rearrange cancer treatment plans during this epidemic.

To determine whether the patient needs to undergo chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery in the hospital, the doctor will assess the severity of cancer (the stage of cancer) and the patient's general condition.

What Can Cancer Patients Do During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

In general, the preventive measures that cancer sufferers must take during the COVID-19 pandemic are as follows:

  • Limit physical contact with anyone for at least 12 weeks
  • Wear a mask when traveling outside the home and away from crowds or crowded places
  • Wash your hands regularly with running water and soap for 20 seconds, especially before eating and after using the bathroom
  • Maintain a minimum distance of 1.5-2 meters when interacting with others
  • Eating a balanced nutritious food to maintain endurance
  • Do light exercise regularly at home if possible
  • Take medicines that have been prescribed according to doctor's instructions regularly
  • Ask for help from others at home to clean the house regularly, especially objects that are often touched such as tables, chairs, and door handles

In addition to taking several steps to prevent COVID-19 above, cancer patients also need to continue to establish communication with family and friends so they do not feel lonely or isolated.

If the condition of the disease worsens or experiences symptoms of COVID-19 in the form of fever, coughing, or shortness of breath, cancer sufferers need to immediately perform independent isolation and contact the doctor who handles it or the COVID-19 hotline to get further direction.



  1. Bersanelli, M. (2020). Controversies About COVID-19 and Anticancer Treatment with Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors. Immunotherapy.
  2. Yang, G., Zhang, H., & Yang, Y. (2020). Challenges and Countermeasures of Integrative Cancer Therapy in the Epidemic of COVID-19. Integrative Cancer Therapies.
  3. American Cancer Society (2020). Why People with Cancer are More Likely to Get Infections.

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Is a health and wellness enthusiast. In him free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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