Are there any additional precautions I should take if I have or have had cancer?
If you or a loved one is living with cancer and/or are undergoing treatment, in addition to following the Australian government’s advice, there are additional precautions you can take to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.
In many cases, these will be similar to precautions you may have been given by your treating team.
These can include:
Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, or if not immediately available use an alcohol-based hand rub. It’s a good idea to carry this with you. It is especially important to wash your hands before eating or drinking.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as this can transfer the virus from surfaces and increase the risk of infection.
Avoid contact with those who are sick or unwell or have been exposed to the virus or may be at higher risk due to recent travel to a high-risk country.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (tables, benches, light switches, doorknobs, sinks, toilets, remotes, such as your mobile phone or eating surfaces). Wear gloves (disposable if possible). Clean obvious debris with soap and water. Clean with a 70% alcohol solution or a mix of 4 teaspoons of bleach per litre of water.
Avoid crowds and crowded areas and avoid unnecessary physical contact, such as shaking hands, hugging or kissing. This is especially important if you are currently having chemotherapy or are post treatments such as bone marrow transplantation.
Maintain a 1.5 metre physical distance between yourself and others and avoid social habits such as kissing or handshakes.
Talk to your doctor or member of your treatment team about the times in your treatment when you may be at the highest risk of infection so you can plan your activities accordingly. (Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to boosting the immune system beyond adhering to a healthy lifestyle).
Call your treatment team to see if you can do you some of your consultations remotely via phone, Skype or Facetime.
Stay home as much as possible and avoid non-essential travel and avoid public transport if you can.
Most importantly, if you are concerned you may have been exposed to COVID-19 you should call your treatment team.
We recognise it is not always possible to have family and friends help you, so if you need practical assistance to reduce your risk, or you need emotional support you can call Cancer Council’s information and support line on 13 11 20 during business hours. Or you may like post your questions and discuss any concerns in our Cancer and COVID-19 forum here in the Online Community.
For more specific advice around your individual risk please contact your treatment team.
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.