COVID-19: Information for Oncology and Hematology Patients

12/03/2020 17:17:16

You Ask and Prof. Abraham Kuten Answers

Prof. Abraham Kuten, Oncologist and the Israel Cancer Association Chairman, will answer your questions regarding cancer and coping with the COVID-19 virus. Following is an assemblage of some of the questions and answers received.

Click here to read the questions and answers and to leave your own question

Updated as of March 15 2020

Please follow the updated recommendations on the Ministry of Health website

The spreading of the CVOID-19 pandemic caused by the Coronavirus poses a special challenge for cancer patients and their families. Like the elderly and patients suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure, cancer patients too, and especially those currently undergoing treatments, may be at a higher risk of contagion and complications.

Those in the highest risk level group are likely to be patients, who have undergone bone marrow transplantation, as well as hematology and oncology patients receiving chemotherapy, but also patients receiving any other active treatment (biological, immunotherapy, etc.) and patients with an active disease, for which they are not currently receiving treatment, such as post-operative, or those receiving palliative care only, may be at a higher risk.

Do I Have to Stay in Quarantine?

No. if you haven’t been exposed to a diagnosed person, and you are not in the risk group as defined form time to time by the Ministry of Health (such as someone who was abroad), you are not required to stay in quarantine. However, since the risk of contagion is higher, it is recommended you take a few precautionary measures to reduce the risk.

The virus is communicable mainly by direct contact between people, especially when the distance between them is less than two meters. In addition, it may remain in drops on various surfaces. Therefore, it is recommended (updated as of March 15 2020. Please follow the updated recommendations on the Ministry of Health website) to:

  • Avoid exposure to people who may be sick as much as possible
  • Avoid travelling in public transportation as much as possible.
  • Avoid crowded places such as stores, restaurants and shopping centers and stay away from sick people.
  • It is recommended to perform physical exercise and go for a walk, while avoiding crowded places and keep a distance of at least two meters from others.

How to maintain the proper hygiene?

Hands must be washed at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your face as much as possible, sneeze or cough into a handkerchief or your elbow, wipe surfaces and objects that you touch regularly.

Should I cancel my appointment and avoid showing up at the Oncology or Hematology clinic?

It is not recommended to cancel your appointment and you should show up for your visit or treatment as scheduled. The doctor or clinic may instruct you on other alternatives to a visit, such as a Telemedicine, phone consultation or email inquiry. Avoid bringing chaperons with you as much as possible during the visit, and if needed, no more than one chaperon.

What Should I Do If I don’t feel well?

The virus symptoms among other things are fever, coughing and shortness of breath. If you are not feeling well due to one of these symptoms, you must call Magen David Adom hotline or an emergency room. If you are suffering from fever and/or respiratory symptoms, notify your physician ahead of time, and avoid entering the clinic premises without prior coordination. Before going to hospital, wear a mask hat covers your mouth and nose. Remember that not every mind symptom is a sign of the virus, and use your own discretion when going to the emergency room.

How Do I Boost My Immune System?

Continue to practice a healthy lifestyle, with regular physical activity at home or walking outdoors (better to avoid going to the gym), refrain from smoking, which, aside from its usual harmful effects, is found to intensify coping with COVID-19, and keep a balanced diet and regular sleep. Ask your physician about recommended vaccines, such as the flu shot and pneumococcal vaccine.

This informational page is brought to you by the Israeli Society for Clinical Oncology and Radiation Therapy (ISCORT) and was prepared by Prof. Ido Wolf, Head of the Oncology Division at Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv and an ICA consultant.

It is recommended to long onto the Ministry of Health for further updates.

Have more questions?

Call us at 1800599995 of leave a message in the enclosed form and we will respond.

Or ask Prof. Abraham Kuten, Oncologist and ICA Chairman on our Facebook page.