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Why cancer patients at higher risk of COVID-19?

Are cancer patients at higher risk of COVID-19.  Is it risky to continue the chemotherapy during COVID-19 outbreak?
4 Responses
134578 tn?1602101550
Definitely talk to your oncologist when you face such an important question. Ask him or her if untreated cancer is more dangerous or if the chemo would be more dangerous for some reason. Talk to your doctor also about the risk of coming in to the lab for the chemo (being around others), then make a reasoned decision informed by the medical science.
Avatar universal
There's a bit of confusion on this topic.  Everyone is at equal risk of catching the virus.  Those at higher risk are not a higher risk of getting the disease but are of higher risk of having a harder time of it if they do get it.  But if you're taking chemo you're at higher risk on both counts, because chemo diminishes the strength of your immune system intentionally.  Current treatments for cancer and for other diseases that are wholly or in part due to a problem with the immune system will often suppress the immune system response either intentionally or as a side effect.  Those with weakened immune systems are more prone to getting anything, not just the corona virus.  But you still would have to be exposed to it to get it.  If you do get it, you are at a higher risk of getting it bad, but so are many people for reasons doctors can't figure out.  What I've heard from experts, and I'm not one, is that some people who have slow growing cancers have been asked to delay cancer treatment but those with imminent problems have to do what they have to do.  So while it is risky to continue chemo right now, it's also risky to have uncontrolled cancer.  If this is the only mechanism you have, you do what you have to do and take extra precautions to avoid getting not only covid but any disease.  As the above says, your oncologist is your guide here, he or she will know the best course.  Worrying about it won't help any, so if you are able, try to just focus on things the way you did before covid just as you did with the flu and all the other diseases floating around out there, which you ignored because you need your focus to be on staying strong and getting through the cancer.  I hope it all works out for you.  Peace.
Avatar universal
May be because the immunity of cancer patients will be on lower side , And hence they may be effected .
1 Comments
Yes, this is what my family member is being told.  My family member battling cancer is already immune compromised due to the cocktail of chemo he is on and then also is in frail health.  That double factor means we have to be extremely careful.  
134578 tn?1602101550
The most interesting part of this is that the cytokine storms that are said to be the biggest killer with this disease come from strong immune systems, and one of the treatments they were thinking about in the early days of Covid is to deliberately weaken the immune system so it doesn't produce that reaction. If I had cancer, I would be less worried about having a weaker immune-system response (if I got Covid-19) than I would simply be worried about the many insults and injuries of cancer possibly giving the disease places to latch on. Again, please talk with the doctor.
4 Comments
I think anyone with a compromised immune system would be in danger of covid 19.  Even with the thought that healthy immune systems may need 'some' suppression.  That's a fine balance but the way chemo knocks out your ability to fight infection at all, it would be dangerous.  
Well, and besides, there is recent question about whether the immune system is really the total culprit. Some newer theories say the virus can cause blood clots that clog the lungs, not cytokine storms clogging the lungs. It's all still so new they just don't know the answers.
Yes, there is a cytokine storm, I think they call it, but you're confusing getting the disease in the first place with having the disease.  A strong healthy immune system will protect you from getting it in the first place.  If you get it, it's not the strength of your immune system that is the problem, it's the nature of the virus hijacking your cells and getting into so many different systems in the body -- the liver, kidneys, lungs, and the blood clotting.  I've also been hearing from frontline docs that part of the problem was putting too many people on ventilators too soon.  It made it worse, they think.  So that also had something to do with the intense immune system reaction.  But again. having a healthy balanced immune system can help you not get sick in the first place, though of course it's not a guarantee and if an exposure is long enough and fierce enough it can be overwhelmed.  In short, two different problems.  One of the problems with our form of medicine is that it tries to kill everything that ails you rather than strengthen you so you can fight better naturally.  It's hard to know when the time to fight with toxic chemicals is the best way and when the best way is to fight with what nature gave us but making it work optimally by changing our lifestyle.  If you do choose to fight cancer with chemo, the chemo is intentionally toxic  because it has to be to kill off the cancer cells, but it's also toxic to everything else as well.  The hope is, and they're getting better at doing this in targeted ways, that when the cancer is gone the body will recover, but in the meantime you will have a suppressed immune system.  But also again, worrying about covid won't help, and the problem is there with all diseases out there, so docs manage you to keep you safe.  Do what you need to do and be well.
That's actually a great explanation paxiled.  Yes, that's why someone with a suppressed or compromised immune system is in danger initially.  They are more susceptible to issues of getting it and having no ability to fight it off can be deadly.  Then there is the "over" immune response that others suffer that is a totally separate thing. If someone has a compromised immune system such as someone doing chemo, they need to be extremely careful or as careful as they can be to avoid the virus.
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