Can I Get Chemo Treatments During Coronavirus?
The fight to defeat cancer is never easy, but the recent emergence of the coronavirus as a global health threat has added a new complication to an already challenging process. Patients going through chemo have to face a variety of issues, from the side effects of chemo – some of which, such as oral mucositis, can be life-threatening in and of themselves – to shouldering the cost of treatment, but few represent as great a risk as the coronavirus.
If you or someone you love is receiving chemo treatments, you might be wondering whether it’s a good idea to go in for the next dose of chemo drugs at a time when the coronavirus is sweeping across the planet. So, can you get chemo treatments during the coronavirus outbreak? Should you?
For answers to these questions, keep reading as the people with Chemo Mouthpiece™ tackle this topic.
The Danger of Chemo Treatments During the Coronavirus Pandemic
There’s no doubt that cancer is a serious disease that must be addressed, but the immediacy of the coronavirus threat has many cancer patients weighing whether to go in for their regular chemo treatments while the pandemic continues. This is an entirely valid concern, given that patients receiving chemotherapy are among the most vulnerable to the predations of the novel coronavirus.
Two particular abilities make chemo medications very effective at treating cancer: they can affect the entire body, and they can target cells that quickly multiply, such as those found in tumors. Unfortunately, the chemicals used in chemotherapy lack the ability to tell cells that are actually cancerous from cells that simply behave in a way that resembles cancer.
For example, the tissues that form hair, nails, bone marrow, and the mucous membranes that line the digestive tract all produce new cells much more quickly than other parts of the body, making them possible targets for attacks by chemo medications.
One of the most serious consequences of these attacks is the damage done to the bone marrow, which is responsible for producing the various blood cells used throughout the body. This not only includes the red blood cells that carry oxygen from organ to organ but also the white blood cells that form the body’s immune system, our defense against invasion by a contagion like COVID-19.
Patients undergoing chemotherapy often have compromised immune systems that lack an adequate number of white blood cells, leaving them unable to fight the spread of COVID-19 throughout their body if they wind up infected with the virus. This is what makes so many chemo patients hesitant to receive treatment: If they happen to catch the coronavirus, they have much lower odds of surviving it than a healthy individual would (Source).
Tips for Getting Chemo Treatments During the Coronavirus Outbreak
For many patients, a delay in chemo treatments could present an unacceptable health risk, especially for those with aggressive forms of cancer. This may not be true for everyone receiving chemotherapy, however; if you have concerns about going in for treatment, be sure to speak with your oncologist and discuss the feasibility of a delay.
That said, it is still possible to receive chemo treatments during the coronavirus outbreak, though a number of precautions should be taken to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus as much as possible; further details are available below (Source).
Maintain Your Distance from Others
Any trip to the hospital or your local cancer treatment center will probably require you to interact with a few people, from the receptionist who meets you at the entrance to the nurse who administers your treatment. While this contact may be unavoidable, do your best to stay at least six feet away from anyone you encounter.
If you have to go to a hospital for your treatment, call ahead and ask if there’s any way to enter the building without going near those who have been admitted with the virus (including those in the entryway or waiting room).
Use Personal Protective Equipment
Even if you maintain a safe distance from those around you, it may not be enough to guarantee that you’re not exposed to the coronavirus; for this reason, it’s important to use personal protective equipment (PPE) to further reduce your chances of exposure.
The two main types of PPE to focus on are masks and gloves, both of which can help keep you safe if used properly. If you don’t have a mask, don’t worry; you can easily make one at home with an old shirt or piece of cloth. These products may also be available at your local drug store, though supplies are extremely limited in many places.
Clean Your Hands and Your Home
Regardless of what other measures you take, it’s important to wash your hands the moment you get home to avoid spreading microbes to the surfaces you touch each day. Scrub your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before rinsing, then dry on a clean towel.
It is also important to wash and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, handles, phone screens, and countertops; clean these surfaces with soap and water before applying a household disinfectant, then wipe away any residue and rinse the surface. Most commonly available brands should work, as would a solution made with four teaspoons of bleach per quart of water (Source).
Get Help with Chemo Mouth Sores with an Oral Cryotherapy Device
Though it won’t address the threat posed by the coronavirus, an innovative oral cryotherapy device like the Chemo Mouthpiece™ is helping those going through treatment to fight the mouth sores caused by chemo.
Cryotherapy has been shown to limit the severity of oral mucositis symptoms in those undergoing most forms of chemo; to learn more about whether the Chemo Mouthpiece™ can help you or someone you know, visit us online or call (866) 461-7518 today.
You can also take the oral mucositis self-assessment quiz on our website to see if the chemo mouthpiece is right for you.