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Experts Opine On Cancer & CoronaVirus

Clinical data on the Wuhan Virus (COVID-19) is not enough, experts are still learning about the Virus each passing day. Nevertheless, recent studies suggest that people with chronic diseases like compromised immune system, and people suffering from cancer are at an increased risk of getting the virus than others.
Experts globally for instance, American Society for Clinical Oncology have issued guidelines to help cancer patients and oncology professionals to cope with the impact of the Wuhan Virus, while still battling cancer, many of them agree with these guidelines for infection control and prevention in contemporary times.
Home can be a healthcare facility
 

People should go for healthcare at home, whenever possible, and logistically feasible for medical team and caregivers. People who are not on active cancer treatment should not visit doctors for routine follow-up. Hospital visits for palliative care should be rescheduled for later, unless it is a medical emergency.
For people with fever or other symptoms of the infection, samples can be collected from home regular laboratories, instead of making them visit the clinic.
 

Tech for the win
 

It is the right time to make use of technology for consultations online and reduce patient-doctor interactions. People who are on follow-up treatment should speak with their oncologists online and avoid unnecessary visits to the hospital.
Examine everyone
 

Doctors should screen patients for COVID-19 the Wuhan Virus, prior to the initiation of treatments that are scheduled and cannot be postponed. It is advised to get examination done one day prior.
 

As a general precaution, even Aakash Healthcare Super Speciality Hospital has made strict restriction on visitors and visiting hours, we are screening all visitors, every hospital should do that.
 

How to continue the treatment
 

Clinical care must be given to all people with cancers, those people who are on regular oral and radiation therapy, and any medication (involving prophylactic antibiotics) or procedures for preventing diseases should continue, as they might assist in maintaining the overall health of the patient and make them less vulnerable to potential COVID19 complications.
 

When to delay the treatment
 

People who are diagnosed with the Wuhan Virus, it would be better to postpone active anti-cancer treatments. Chemotherapy can be stopped altogether for the infected people. All elective cancer procedures should be delayed. People can alter their treatments too, for instance they can switch chemotherapy from IV to oral medication, which will decrease the frequency of hospital visit.
 

Clinicians should make the decision as per the case. Though there is no evidence or published guidance either to support or delay cancer treatments like chemotherapy. In some cases, delays or modifications of treatments may pose a higher risk for the patient, affecting the long-term survival rate of people. Hence, withholding important anti-cancer treatments is not recommended.
 

The bottom line is if the ultimate benefit from the treatment is small, the potential of exposure to the Wuhan Virus is high, and if it is not an emergency, it is advisable to postpone the treatment. Doctors should evaluate all the risks involved and benefits; factors like the stage of the disease and age, before deciding whether to continue with the treatment, modify or postpone it during the ongoing crisis.

Dr. Chandragouda Dodagoudar
Director
Medical Oncology

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