If you have been diagnosed with cancer, your treatment may be affected in some ways due to the lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Here is the information you need to make decisions about whether to continue or pause your treatment during COVID-19 lockdown.
If you have not yet begun your cancer treatment
If you have been diagnosed with cancer but you are yet to start with chemotherapy, radiation or any other prescribed treatment, you can do the following:
Call your oncologist
Call your consulting oncologists to discuss if your treatment can be postponed. Your oncologist will individualise the treatment plan by striking a balance between potential harms that may result from delaying the start of treatment versus the potential benefits of possibly preventing or delaying COVID-19 infection. Certainly, for some slow growing tumours like prostate, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) you can consider postponing your treatment. However, all decisions have to be taken only after consulting an oncologist who is aware of the specifics of your case.
Keep track of your condition
If the present medications you have been given do not help control your symptoms, you will need to contact your oncologist. They may advise you to come in for a physical check-up, in which case, you can call for an ambulance or request family/a friend to help you get to the hospital. Do not take any change in your health condition lightly, talk to your healthcare provider or doctor and seek help.
Make list of emergency contact numbers
Have a list of emergency contact numbers at hand at all times. This list should include contact numbers for the emergency services at the nearest hospital, your oncologist, any other healthcare professional you have been consulting about your medical condition and your insurance company, if it applies. Ensure that your family and friends have a copy of this list with them as well.
Call one of our oncologists
If you have any troubles reaching your consultant doctor, haven’t met an oncologist yet, were planning to travel to another city to get treatment, would like to speak to another consultant, validate your existing treatment plans, or simply want to know more about the potential effects from postponing your cancer treatment, please call Onco.com on +91-7996579965. You can speak with an oncologist who will be able to clarify your doubts. You can also share your diagnostic lab reports with them so that they can advise you appropriately.
If you are currently on treatment for cancer
If you are on cancer-directed treatment at the present time, your hospital should be able to update you on how they plan to proceed with your treatment during the lockdown. Here are a few ideas:
Switching to oral therapies
Find out if your chemotherapy can be switched from IV to oral therapy. This will reduce the number of hospital visits you will have to make. You still need to monitor your condition and stay in touch with your doctor.
Postponing maintenance therapy in deep remission
If you are in deep remission, and are currently receiving maintenance therapy, you can consult your oncologist on stopping chemotherapy for a short term. For example, some weeks of endocrine therapy and delay in surgery may be appropriate for some patients with early-stage hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.
Delaying radiotherapy for slow growing tumours
If you have a slow growing tumour like prostate cancer, delaying radiotherapy might be an option for you. However, for different types of tumours, you will need an individualised opinion on this matter. If there are interruptions in your radiation treatment, your oncologist might be able to eventually compensate for it by scheduling additional days or by adapting a modified plan to ensure that the patient receives the required dosage within an accepted time frame.
However, patients with solid tumours receiving adjuvant therapy with curative intent, and patients with metastatic disease are advised to continue treatment. Delays could lead to worsening performance and a possible loss of the window to treat and obtain curative outcomes.
Similarly, stem cell transplants and cellular immunotherapies provide curate treatments for aggressive disease and in many cases, the treatment cannot be delayed for such patients but it also requires lowering your immunity during treatment so your oncologists would be extra cautious to avoid any infections.
No matter what your medical situation, you will need to consult your oncologist before making any decision to discontinue, postpont or continue your treatment.
To know more about how you can manage your cancer treatment during the lockdown, you can call an Onco.com care manager on +91-7996579965. You can also visit www.onco.com to know more the treatment options for the type and stage of cancer you have.