Cancer, the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly had a dramatic impact on all areas of cancer control, including prevention and vaccination programs, screening and early detection services, provision of all modalities of cancer treatment and care, including follow-up care for cancer survivors, and the conduct of cancer research and clinical trials.
Because of this, it is unfortunately inevitable that this pandemic will have a substantial impact on cancer outcomes. Beyond the risks that direct acquisition of the virus may carry for patients with cancer, delayed diagnosis and the provision of suboptimal care may have a larger impact on the wider population of patients with cancer. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) tagged cancer as the third leading cause of death (27.34 thousand deaths) in the country in the first half of 2021.
As cancer continues to claim the lives of Filipinos, it is imperative that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the treatment and care of patients should not be understated and that cancer care should continue amidst the pandemic support cancer patients and their families in their cancer journey, here are six reminders to help patients navigate care and treatment in the new normal. Continue with your Cancer Screening and Treatment.
According to the Philippine Society for Medical Oncology (PSMO), the goal is to continue cancer care while minimizing the risk of being infected. The risk and benefits of delaying or continuing treatments must be assessed and individualized according to each patient. Get Vaccinated against COVID-19The PSMO strongly advises patients with cancer or a history of cancer to receive their COVID-19 immunization doses as soon as they are eligible, aligning with recommendations from national and international professionals and government entities involved in cancer care.
Also, getting a booster shot or third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine may help prolong the efficacy of the protective immunity it gives individuals with a weakened immune system.7 Research has indicated that many fully vaccinated individuals are protected from severe risks of morbidity and mortality from COVID-19, even from newer variants. Still, some studies have shown that vaccines may wane in efficacy after a certain period.
As a result, individuals who may be immunocompromised, such as cancer patients, should receive a booster shot or third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine after completing the initial series.Because each person’s situation is unique, it is best to discuss the risks and benefits of receiving one of the COVID-19 vaccines with your cancer doctor. They can give you advice and tell you when you should expect it.Make sure you are protected from COVID-19.
Maintain minimum health safety protocols and guidelines at all times, whether at home or outside.Wear a mask that fits snugly over your nose and mouth.Keep at least 6 feet away from people who do not live with you.
Crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces should be avoided.Hands should be washed frequently with soap and water.If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer.Coughs and sneezes should be covered.Every day, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.Wear masks that fit snugly over your nose and mouth. Crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces should be avoided. Hands should be washed more frequently than usual. Practice social distancing, especially with people you don’t know and those who aren’t vaccinated.
Use telemedicine to stay in touch with your doctors at all times.
Doctors can screen patients for possible illnesses via telehealth appointments to prevent the spread of COVID-19, flu, and other infectious diseases. These appointments also keep patients from having to come into the office for face-to-face consultations. Furthermore, less exposure to others benefits everyone, especially those who are chronically ill, pregnant, elderly, or immunocompromised.
If you have COVID symptoms, pay attention to them. If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms of an infection, you should get a COVID-19 test9. If the test results show that you have COVID-19, isolate yourself from others and contact your doctor. Before going to your doctor’s office, urgent care centre, or emergency room, call ahead.