Is It Safe For A Cancer Survivor To Receive A Covid
Yes, the , including the booster, is safe for cancer survivors. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends that people with a history of cancer be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.
The FDA also approved as a prophylactic for adults who are immunocompromised and who may not be able to mount an immune response to the COVID-19 vaccination.
Im On Hormone Therapy Will It Continue
Standard hormone therapy treatments, including LHRH agonists, GnRH antagonists and anti-androgen tablets, wont increase your risk of catching coronavirus, or of having more severe illness if you do catch coronavirus. This means its safe to continue having hormone therapy.
Your doctor may decide to change your hormone therapy so that you dont have to visit your GP surgery or hospital as often. For example, if you usually have an injection every month, you may start having one every three or six months instead. This wont affect how well your treatment works three and six-monthly injections release the drug slowly over time and are just as effective as monthly injections.
If youre worried about your hormone therapy being changed, speak to your doctor. They should be able to explain why they are changing it and reassure you that it is safe.
If your doctor suggests stopping your hormone therapy and youre not sure why, get in touch with our Specialist Nurses.
How Strong Is Your Immune System After Cancer Treatment
After chemo and radiation, your immune system can stay suppressed for several months.
A study of people who had chemo for breast cancer found the immune system often took nine months or more to fully recover. Several types of immune-system cells were depleted.
In people who smoked, some immune cells were only at 50% of normal levels after nine months. Thats compared to an 80% rate in nonsmokers.
Specific chemo drugs have different effects. In the study, people given the drug anthracycline had normal immune function by the end of the study period. Those who took anthracycline plus taxane, a more traditional chemo drug, recovered much more slowly.
While newer research has been illuminating, much remains to be learned about the specific immune-system effects of cancer treatments.
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Cancer Treatments Can Increase Infection Risk
Certain cancer treatments can interfere with the way the immune system works. The damage can be short- or long-term. For example, if a person with cancer has their spleen removed due to cancer, this causes long-term damage because the spleen is part of the immune system. On the other hand, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy, either alone or in combination can lead to short-term immune system damage because they affect immune system blood cells for a fairly short period of time. A bone marrow or stem cell transplant uses very high-dose treatments to kill cancer cells that also damage immune system cells for weeks to months.
Treatments That Cause Immunosuppression
A variety of treatments can weaken the immune system. Depending upon the treatment, it can take six months to a year after completing treatment for immune system function to return to normal. Treatments that can cause immunosuppression include:
- Cancer treatment. If you undergo chemotherapy or radiation, you are likely immunocompromised, as these treatments lower your white blood cell count. White blood cells are part of your immune system and they help fight disease, so when your white blood cell count is lowered, your immune system isnt functioning as it should.
- Treatment received after an organ or stem cell transplant. If youve recently received an organ or stem cell transplant, you are also considered immunocompromised. The treatment you receive after your transplant ensures your body doesnt attack the new organ, but by doing this, it also weakens the immune system, says Mayur Ramesh, M.D., an infectious disease specialist who works with cancer and transplant patients.
- High-dose corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory steroids that treat diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and vasculitis . These diseases are all autoimmune conditions, which make the immune system go into overdrive. The steroids reduce inflammation and lower immune system function to calm it down.
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Coping With Hair Loss
Hair loss can be upsetting. Talk to your care team if you find losing your hair difficult to cope with.
They understand how distressing it can be and can support you and discuss your options with you.
You may decide you want to wear a wig if you lose the hair on your head. Synthetic wigs are available free of charge on the NHS for some people, but you’ll usually have to pay for a wig made from real hair.
Other options include headwear such as headscarves.
Questions Patients Might Be Reluctant To Ask About Radiation Therapy
Getting a recommendation for radiation therapyas part of cancer treatment comes with a learning curve and a lot ofquestions. Morethan half of all patients with cancer receive radiation therapy at somepoint in their care, and patients and their families want to know how radiationworks and how it might affect their lives during and after treatment.
Still, we know some patients feel nervousasking questions about their cancer therapy. In a word: Dont. Asking questionshelps your doctors provide the best care.
Radiationoncologists at the UT Southwestern Harold C. Simmons Cancer Center areleaders in the field, conducting research studies and pioneering advancedradiation techniques such as stereotactic ablative radiotherapy ,brachytherapy, and novel combinations of radiotherapy with chemotherapy.
Were always happy to share the most currentradiation knowledge with our patients. So, here are answers to five of the mostcommon questions patients have said they were nervous to ask but were gladthey did.
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If I’m At High Risk For Severe Covid
Aside from vaccination, the most effective way to prevent COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes it. To protect yourself and prevent the spread of COVID-19, take precautions:
- Get vaccinated against COVID-19 and stay up to date on boosters.
- Wear a well-fitting mask that covers your nose and mouth.
- Stay 6 feet away from people who dont live with you.
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
- Some doctors advise that you make sure anyone you do have contact with has been vaccinated and/or tested negative for COVID-19.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water arent available.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
- Monitor your health and be alert for symptoms of COVID-19.
Your family members, loved ones, and caregivers can help protect you and other people at high risk of serious COVID-19 by following these precautions, too.
Certain people who are at high risk of severe illness from SARS-CoV-2 infection may be eligible to receive Evusheld to prevent the development of COVID-19 even before they have become infected with the virus. This product, a combination of the monoclonal antibodies tixagevimab and cilgavimab, has been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use and is not a substitute for COVID-19 vaccination.
What Are The Different Types Of Radiation Treatments
Radiation therapy uses concentrated doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and reduce the size of tumors. Depending on the type of cancer present in the body, one of two types of radiation therapy may be used.
External beam radiation therapy uses a large machine to send radiation into the specific area containing cancer. The radiation machine never touches the body, but it does move around to deliver radiation into precise parts of the body. External beam radiation is the most common type of treatment for many cancers.
Internal radiation therapy, on the other hand, uses a solid or liquid radiation source to physically deliver radiation inside the body. If a solid source of radiation is used, it only targets a specific part of the body for localized treatment, especially for cancers of the head, neck, breast, cervix, prostate, and eye. If a liquid source of radiation is used, its considered a systemic therapy that travels through the blood into tissues throughout the entire body.
Radiation therapy is often used in conjunction with other treatments or surgeries to target cancer in the most strategic way possible. Its often used to make surgery easier by shrinking the size of the tumor beforehand. Radiation therapy is even used during surgery to go straight into cancer cells without passing through the skin.
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Im Worried About Prostate Cancer Can I See A Gp
Yes your GP surgery is open and its important to contact them if you have any unusual symptoms or are worried about your risk of prostate cancer. Depending on where you live, you may have a phone or video appointment to discuss your concerns. Your GP may then ask you to book another appointment if they want to see you in person.
Some GP surgeries have fewer appointments available than usual. However, they are being asked to prioritise anyone who might have cancer, as well as patients who’ve already been diagnosed with cancer. So you shouldnt have to wait very long for an appointment.
If you do struggle to get an appointment, contact our Specialist Nurses. They can listen to your concerns and help you prepare to speak to your GP surgery.
If youve noticed changes in the way you urinate , this is likely to be caused by a non-cancerous problem, rather than prostate cancer. But its important to get any symptoms checked out, so that your GP can help find out what is causing them.
What will happen if my GP thinks I might have prostate cancer?
If your GP thinks you may have prostate cancer or a prostate problem, they may do a digital rectal examination and a urine test to rule out infection. They may also offer you a PSA blood test and discuss its pros and cons. Your GP surgery will have made changes to help prevent the spread of coronavirus call them if youre worried or want more information on this.
The Immune System Can Help To Fight Cancer
Some cells of the immune system can recognise cancer cells as abnormal and kill them. But this may not be enough to get rid of a cancer altogether.
Some treatments aim to use the immune system to fight cancer.
There are 2 main parts of the immune system:
- the protection we have from birth
- the protection we develop after having certain diseases
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Immune Effects Of High Dose Radiation Treatment: Implications Of Ionizing Radiation On The Development Of Bystander And Abscopal Effects
Ithaisa Sologuren1,2, , Carlos Rodríguez-Gallego1,2, , Pedro Carlos Lara1,3
1 Instituto Canario de Investigación del Cáncer , Department of Immunology, Hospital Universitario de Gran Canaria Dr, Negrín , Las Palmas de Gran Canaria , Radiation Oncology Department, Hospital Universitario de Gran Canaria Dr, Negrín , Las Palmas de Gran Canaria , Spain
Keywords: Abscopal effect anti-tumor immunity bystander effect cancer high dose radiation therapy
Submitted Jan 13, 2014. Accepted for publication Feb 19, 2014.
Low White Blood Cell Counts And Infection Risk
Certain cancer treatments or the cancer itself can suppress or weaken the immune system. These treatments can lower the number of white blood cells and other immune system cells. Treatment can also cause these cells to not work as well as they should. This is called immunosuppression. Its much easier to get an infection when there arent enough WBCs to destroy germs, especially the type of WBCs called neutrophils.
Neutrophils are a very important defense against most types of infection. When looking at your risk of getting an infection, doctors look at the number of neutrophils you have. A low neutrophil count is called neutropenia . The doctor may say you are neutropenic.
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Im Having Cancer Treatment Could Coronavirus Make Me Very Ill
The effects of coronavirus infection could be particularly severe for certain people with prostate cancer . These include men having:
- clinical trial drugs that affect the immune system, such as olaparib or pembrolizumab .
If you’re having one of these treatments, or have stopped having one of them in the last three months, you should continue to take the precautions you are comfortable with to protect yourself and speak to your medical team about any concerns you have.
The following steps will all help to reduce your risk:
- wash your hands well and often
- avoid touching your face and wear a face mask where required
- if you go to shops or other indoor public places, try to go at quieter times and limit the amount of time youre there
- limit travel on public transport and try to travel at quieter times
Although most coronavirus related restrictions have now been removed, its really important that you follow the advice of your medical team. They may suggest you take other steps to protect yourself, depending on your own situation.
Do I need to follow this guidance after I’ve had the coronavirus vaccine?
Yes, you should continue following the guidance above, even after youve had the vaccine.
To find out more, read our information about COVID-19 vaccines for people with prostate cancer.
For other men with prostate cancer
How Do Cancer Treatments Damage The Immune System
This page adheres to our medical and editorial policy and guidelines.
Lets face it, many cancer treatments are physically difficult. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and cancer drugs may take a toll on the body that result in serious side effects. These treatments and side effects may also compromise or exhaust the immune system at a time when your body may need it to perform efficiently. As critical as these cancer treatments are, its also important to understand how, in some cases, they may damage the immune system, so you can take steps to protect yourself, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other Chemos Other Cancers
Researchers found that the type of chemo used did seem to make a difference in the recovery of patientsâ immune systems.
For instance, lymphocyte levels in patients treated with certain anthracycline-based regimens followed by the taxane docetaxel âremained significantly depressed,â measuring at 64 percent of pre-chemo levels.
Dr. Julie Gralow â a breast cancer oncologist at SCCA, Fred Hutch’s treatment arm â said she thought patients would be very interested in the study, but she felt the âclinical implications of the finding remain to be seen,â noting that the study looked at chemo agents that may not be commonly used in the U.S.
At the SCCA, for example, âWe donât use epirubicin as the anthracycline, we use doxorubicin,â she said. âAnd when we give anthracyclines, we generally favor taxol over taxotere as the taxane. So we donât give the same chemo.â
She also suggested that while the study showed the immune system was impacted by chemo, the study didnât prove that patients were more at risk for infection.
âMost of the effect has recovered within nine months, if you donât smoke,â she said. â it seems that smoking has a big effect, and we always encourage patients to stop smoking.â
While the researchers did not investigate this effect in other cancers, they said patients treated with the same chemotherapy agents would most likely experience the same thing.
Will My Regular Psa Tests Still Happen
Where possible, GP surgeries and hospitals are continuing to provide routine tests as normal. If you usually have blood tests at your GP surgery, you may be asked to wait outside . This is so that you dont have to wait with other patients or spend very long inside the building. If you have coronavirus symptoms, youll need to delay your blood test while you follow the latest government guidance on self-isolating at home.
In some areas, a nurse may be able to visit you at home to do blood tests if you are concerned, ask your GP surgery if this is an option. If you usually have regular blood tests at the hospital, you may be able to have these at your GP surgery or at home instead.
One small study of 91 men with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia has suggested that PSA levels can increase at the point of testing positive for coronavirus infection. PSA may also continue to be raised during the early period after infection. However more research is needed to understand the importance of these changes. If you have concerns about how this might affect your treatment decisions, please talk to your medical team.
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How Long Are Cancer Patients Immunocompromised
The type of cancer a patient has, as well as the treatment chemotherapy or radiation therapy can substantially affect the duration of the impact on a patients immune system. For example, if somebody has had a bone marrow transplantation because of blood cancer, their immune system is severely impacted by the chemotherapy and radiation therapy they received in order to eliminate the cancer. They are then repopulated with transplanted cells. When that happens, the length of time that the immune system is impacted can be prolonged.
Also, an individual patients immune system can be more impacted than another patients even though they have the same cancer and received the same treatment. I would encourage everybody to discuss their individual situations with their oncologists.