Cancer and COVID-19

The rapid spread of the coronavirus can be a large cause of concern for patients battling cancer, caregivers, and loved ones. At Oncoshot, we are dedicated in helping you navigate these uncertain times. The resources below can help you find the medical information you need about cancer and COVID-19.
Common questions about coronavirus and cancer

Coronavirus facts, how you can protect yourself, and what your cancer support team can do for you.

What is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a group of related viruses that causes diseases in mammals and birds, with an ability to evolve and infect humans as well.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is the present fast spreading novel coronavirus infectious disease due to the viral species severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). This illness causes respiratory tract infections, affecting your lungs and airways.

Who is at specific risk?

While COVID-19 typically does not cause serious problems for most people, it can have serious complications for others. The elderly and those with underlying health conditions, such as active cancer, may be more vulnerable to the disease.

People at risk include:

  • Patients having chemotherapy, or who have received chemotherapy in the last 3 months
  • Patients receiving extensive radiotherapy
  • Patients who have had stem cell transplants
  • Patients who are taking immunosuppressive drugs

Co-infections of the upper airways and/or chronic inflammatory and obstructive pulmonary disease may increase the risk of an adverse outcome in patients with viral infections.

Does having cancer increase my likelihood of getting COVID-19?

Cancer and treatment weaken your immune system, reducing your ability to fight infections. This means that you are more at risk of being seriously ill if you develop the COVID-19 infection.

What measures can I take to protect myself from getting COVID-19?

You are encouraged to follow particular measures to protect yourself:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Practice social distancing whenever possible.
  • Keep in touch with your physician as they can best assess your condition.
  • Watch for symptoms of COVID-19, which may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. These symptoms may include:
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Music pain
    • New loss of taste or smell

I am worried that my treatment may get changed/delayed.

Your healthcare team might review your cancer treatment plan to minimize your risk of exposure to COVID-19. While they will aim to continue your treatment wherever possible, some treatment options may be get prioritized over others.

The risks associated with continuing treatment include:

  • How your cancer treatments affect your immune system – you are more at risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 if your immune system is impaired after treatment.
  • Exposure to the coronavirus during hospital visits.

Your doctor will weigh up the treatment benefit with the risks of treatment, taking into account how urgent your treatment is. They also have to consider the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on all health services. As a result, non-urgent treatment plans may get changed or postponed.

What can I ask my doctor?

Here are some suggestions for questions you might want to ask your doctor:

  • Am I at a higher risk of getting COVID-19?
  • Will my cancer treatment affect my risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19?
  • Are there any special precautions I should take while undergoing treatment?
  • What should I do if I, or someone I live with, gets COVID-19?
  • If I get sick from COVID-19, will it affect the outlook or prognosis of my cancer?
  • Are there any changes you can make to my treatment to lower the risk of getting COVID-19?
  • Will a delay to my treatment affect how well my treatment will work?

Learn more about COVID-19 risks and precautions you can take in the latest webinar held by the Singapore Society of Oncology.

In The Media
Dr Toh Chee Keong

Dr Toh Chee Keong

Dr Toh Chee Keong, Senior Oncologist from Curie Oncology, shares his advice on care practices patients with cancer can adopt during the COVID-19 pandemic. This interview was conducted on Mediacorp Radio Station Capital 95.8 on 30 April 2020.

Part 1 (Language: Mandarin)

Part 2 (Language: Mandarin)

Ned Sharples

Ned Sharpless

Ned Sharpless, Managing Director of the National Cancer Institute, shares how research momentum can be maintained during the COVID-19 pandemic despite impacted clinical trials. This discussion took place on 21 April 2020 on a TheoryLab podcast.

Professor Su-Pin Choo

Professor Su-Pin Choo

Professor Su-Pin Choo, President of the Singapore Society of Oncology, discusses integrated cancer care in Singapore and the needs of cancer survivors post remission. The interview took place on 22 December 2019 on Money FM 89.3.

Weekend Mornings: Getting Back to Work After Cancer

Key International Resources

Get to know the rich resources you can rely on.

Patients are strongly encouraged to save their cancer specialist-in-charge’s name and working number/contact details in their phones or wherever possible.

Key points of COVID-19 to note for cancer patients and caregivers

American Society of Clinical Oncology

Videos from Australia

Cancer Council (Australia) 2020

Coping with cancer during COVID-19

Coping with cancer during COVID-19

Helpful information about cancer in teenagers

Teenage Cancer Trust 2020

Quick distinguishing of at-risk groups and what to do

European Cancer Patient Coalition 2020

Modifying patient care during the pandemic

American Society of Clinical Oncology

Resources for physicians

National Health Service 2020

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (UK)

European Society of Surgical Oncology 2020

European Society for Medical Oncology 2020

Local Cancer Centres
National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS)

National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS)

www.nccs.com.sg

Main hotline: 64268000
Central Outpatient Pharmacy: 63458091
(Only for NCC outpatients, Level 1)
Emotions queries: 64368417 or 63368088

National University Cancer Institute Singapore

National University Cancer Institute Singapore/
National University Hospital

www.ncis.com.sg

NCIS Concierge @ Level 8
(65) 6773 7888
CancerApptLine@nuhs.edu.sg

Free Counselling Hotline managed by trained Oncology Nurses

Opening Hours:
8.30am to 5.30pm (Mondays - Fridays)
Closed on Weekends & Public Holidays

Contact Details:
(65) 9722 0569
CancerLineNurse@nuhs.edu.sg

Oncology Telemedicine Services
Curie Oncology

Curie Oncology

curieoncology.com.sg

97516188

SG Ministries

MOH

www.moh.gov.sg

1800 3339999

NCID (Previous CDC)

6256 6011 (24-hr hotline)

contact@ncid.sg

MSF

www.msf.gov.sg

63555000

Past Webinars

China Experience Sharing - Cancer Management in COVID-19

Target Group: Pharma/Onco
Organiser: Roche

Watch the recording via this link

Molecular Tumor Board Meeting on Breast Cancer

Target Group: Pharma/Onco
Organiser: Guardant
Email organizers at press@guardantamea.com to watch the recording

Navigating Lung Cancer Patient Care during COVID-19 Pandemic

Target Group: Pharma/Onco
Organiser: Singapore Society of Oncology

Watch the recording via this link

Evolving Treatment Landscape of mCRPC: How do I treat in 2020

Target Group: Pharma/Onco
Organiser: AstraZeneca

Watch the recording via this link

Telehealth in Providing Psychological Support to Patients with Cancer

Target Group: Pharma/Onco
Organiser: eCancer

Watch the recording via this link

COVID-19 and Cancer ECHO for Cancer Care Teams

Target Group: Caregiver
Organiser: American Cancer Society

Watch the recording via this link

Experiences and Lessons During COVID-19 Pandemic

Target Group: Pharma/Onco
Organiser: ASCO

Watch the recording via this link

Discussion on the Use of Liquid Biopsy in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Target Group: Pharma/Onco
Organiser: Guardant
Email organizers at press@guardantamea.com to watch the recording

Mitigating risks to ongoing clinical trials in the current COVID-19 environment

Target Group: Pharma/Onco
Organiser: FierceBiotech

Watch the recording via this link

Management of EGFR-TKIs patient during Pandemic COVID-19

Target Group: Pharma/Onco
Organiser: AstraZeneca

Watch the recording via this link

Management of Aggressive Lung Cancer during COVID-19 Pandemic: Now and Moving Forward

Target Group: Pharma/Onco
Organiser: Roche

Watch the recording via this link

COVID-19 and Lung Cancer

Target Group: Pharma/Onco
Organiser: Singapore Society of Oncology

Watch the recording via this link

Building Resilient Health Systems: Data-Driven Solutions for a Post-COVID World

Target Group: Pharma/Onco
Organiser: FutureProofing Healthcare

Watch the recording via this link

Cancer Treatment and Immunotherapy during COVID-19 Pandemic

Target Group: Pharma/Onco
Organiser: Bristol Myers Squibb

Watch the recording via this link

How to Accelerate the Development of Diagnostics for COVID-19

Target Group: Pharma/Onco
Organiser: FierceBiotech

Watch the recording via this link

Management and Treatment of Gastroenteropancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors: Oncologist Perspectives

Target Group: Pharma/Onco
Organiser: Ipsen

Watch the recording via this link

Radium-223: Who, When and How?

Target Group: Pharma/Onco
Organiser: Bayer

Watch the recording via this link

Molecular Tumour Board Webinar – Gastrointestinal Cancer

Target Group: Pharma/Onco
Organiser: Guardant

Watch the recording via this link

Management of Early Breast Cancer

Target Group: Patients
Organiser: Thomson Breast Centre and ICON Cancer Centre

Watch the recording via this link

Asian Perspective on Clinical Application of Comprehensive Genomic Profiling (CGP) for Lung Cancer

Target Group: Patients
Organiser: Guardant

Watch the recording via this link

Preoperative Considerations and Benefits of Neoadjuvant Therapy in HER2+ Breast Cancer

Target Group: Pharma/Onco
Organiser: Roche

Watch the recording via this link

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