Can You Skip a Chemotherapy Infusion Because of the Coronavirus?
The health concerns of those with cancer can quickly overwhelm a patient; add the danger and stress associated with the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s easy to imagine why someone dealing with cancer and chemotherapy might feel that they have conflicting priorities.
Normally, someone whose cancer necessitated treatment with chemotherapy wouldn’t have to wonder about the right course of action, but because the coronavirus represents such an acute threat to the health of those undergoing chemo, it’s natural to wonder which is the more immediate concern: cancer or COVID-19.
If you or a loved one is undergoing a course of chemo, you might wonder if you can or should skip a chemotherapy infusion because of the coronavirus.
To learn the answer, keep reading as the people at Chemo Mouthpiece™ explain. However, always consult your oncology team, doctor, or other health care professional before making a decision.
The Danger of the Coronavirus for Patients Getting Chemotherapy Infusions
The many side effects of chemotherapy are no secret, even to those who haven’t experienced this type of treatment, but what may be less clear is how chemo can increase the risk of coronavirus infection.
Chemotherapy is an example of systemic treatment, meaning that it affects the entire body once applied. An infusion of chemo drugs will send those toxic chemicals throughout the body in search of cancerous tissue; unfortunately, that’s not the only kind of tissue these drugs can attack.
The prime target for chemo drugs is any cell that rapidly divides – a hallmark of cancerous tissue. However, there are plenty of healthy cells that show this same type of behavior. Cells in your hair, nails, bone marrow and digestive tract all multiply quickly, so they’re often confused for cancer cells by chemo medications; this leads to the side effects associated with chemo.
While many of these side effects can hurt a patient’s quality of life, the one that presents perhaps the most danger – especially in the time of the coronavirus – is the damage done to bone marrow.
In a healthy person, bone marrow is what produces the blood cells (both white and red) that carry oxygen throughout the body and fight off invasions by bacteria and viruses. In someone going through chemo, these functions are hindered by the very medication meant to heal them, which effectively compromises their immune system and leaves them vulnerable to the effects of contagions like the coronavirus (Source).
Does Chemo Make You More Susceptible to the Coronavirus?
Although a person going through chemotherapy may be more vulnerable to developing severe infections, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily more likely to catch the virus. The only way for a person to come down with the coronavirus is through exposure to an infected individual or contaminated surface; this is as true for cancer patients as it is for anyone else (Source).
As long as you take the proper precautions – staying inside as much as possible, keeping your distance from others, washing your hands regularly, etc. – you should be no more likely to get the coronavirus than even the healthiest of individuals.
That said, those who have to head to their local hospital or cancer treatment center for chemo infusions may well be putting themselves at increased risk for exposure to COVID-19. If staying away from others is the best way to avoid the virus, going in for treatment might undermine your effort to stay as healthy as possible.
Ultimately, you and your doctor will have to weigh the risks of treatment and come to a decision about what course of action would be best for you.
Should You Get a Chemotherapy Infusion During the Coronavirus Outbreak?
There’s no doubt that cancer is a serious illness that must be treated, but when simply going in for a chemo infusion puts you at risk for an even more serious health issue it’s reasonable to ask which threat you should prioritize.
For some cancer patients, it may be possible to delay one or more chemotherapy infusions, depending on the specific circumstances surrounding their case (Source). For others, postponing even a single treatment may seriously hurt their chances of recovery.
At the end of the day, the best person to help you decide whether you should get a chemo infusion during the coronavirus outbreak is your oncologist. As the person handling your treatment, they should have an accurate idea as to the urgency of your chemo treatments, so they should also be able to help you determine whether you should risk exposure to the coronavirus for the sake of those treatments.
It’s important to note that simply deciding on your own to skip your next chemo infusion is a bad idea. If you’re questioning the wisdom of heading to the hospital or cancer treatment center for your next dose of chemo medication, contact your oncologist and express your concerns; they can offer sound advice based on your individual situation.
Fight Mouth Sores Cause by Chemo Infusions with the Chemo Mouthpiece™
If you or someone you know is going through chemotherapy, you might already be familiar with the mouth sores this treatment can cause – a condition called oral mucositis. While mouth sores caused by chemo are difficult to prevent, one method has been shown to significantly reduce the severity of symptoms: cryotherapy, which uses freezing temperatures to shrink the blood vessels of the mouth and limit chemo drugs’ access to the area.
The Chemo Mouthpiece™ is an innovative oral cryotherapy device, making it an excellent option for many who are at risk of developing oral mucositis. You can learn more about this and if the Chemo Mouthpiece™ is right for you by taking the oral mucositis self-assessment on our website.
To learn more about this simple, easy-to-use device, visit the Chemo Mouthpiece™ website today or call (866) 461-7518.