Cancer care in midst of Covid pandemic

Dr Rajasundaram

Chennai: As the coronavirus pandemic escalates and countries struggle to contain the virus, health-care systems are under increasing pressure. So what does Covid-19 mean for patients with cancer, their treating doctors, and the wider oncology discipline?

According to Dr Rajasundaram, director, Institute of Oncology, Gleneagels Global Health City, there are two important questions before the patients and oncologists at present which needs to be addressed to. First, patients with cancer must leave their homes to visit the cancer clinic and thereby possibly expose themselves to infection. Second, does the cancer treatment causes immune compromise and thereby predispose patients to COVID-19.

The treating oncologist has to weigh the risks of death and morbidity from Covid-19 against the magnitude of benefit of intended cancer therapies, he said and added that we can classify cancer patients into three groups and address the concerns and risks with respect to each subgroup.

He said cancer patients who have completed their treatment and have succeeded in defeating the disease are worried about their risk of contacting Covid-19. They are on par with general population with respect to risk of contacting the virus with no extra immune compromise. “They can be rest assured that the cancer which was a threat in the past poses no extra threat now in the present scenario as they are no more on any cancer directed immune suppressing medications.”

In that context, patients who have routine yearly follow up for regular checkup and scans can postpone it by a couple of months and those who needs blood tests can get it done through home testing.

Social media, teleconferencing and communicating the reports to your doctor over phone or message can help you in avoiding unwanted hospital visits and may help oncologists decide if hospital visit is warranted, he added.

 

NT Bureau