Tips on navigating breast cancer treatment during COVID
Understandably, COVID-19 is causing a lot of concern for people with cancer. If you’re currently undergoing, or about to start breast cancer treatment, you may be feeling anxious or worried about being potentially exposed to the virus, accessing the treatment/s you need (e.g. chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, immune-based therapy) or the effects of these treatments on your immunity.
At GenesisCare, you will always see the same experienced, dedicated radiation oncologist. Ensure you follow their advice and reach out to them if you have any concerns about your breast cancer treatment or risk of COVID-19 infection.
It’s important that people who need treatment for breast cancer don’t delay. Early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer can greatly improve outcomes and survivorship.
Your safety and continued access to high-quality care are the top priorities for everyone at GenesisCare. The teams have taken every precaution to ensure patients seeking treatment and staff are safe, including increased frequency of cleaning rounds, strict hygiene protocols, limiting visitor numbers, screening of patients, staff and visitors on arrival, appropriate use of personal protective equipment and telehealth where appropriate.
You can read more about what GenesisCare are doing to keep you safe during COVID-19 here.
Do you require surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or other breast cancer treatment?
It’s important you continue your breast cancer treatment and also keep up to date with your medical appointments (telehealth or face-to-face). You can access the latest technology and modern treatment techniques through a consistent and experienced doctor and treatment team at GenesisCare. If you need advice, or if you have any concerns about your breast cancer treatment, talk to your doctor or member of your treatment team.
Does breast cancer treatment increase my risk of COVID-19 infection?
Your GenesisCare treatment team will tailor your breast cancer treatment according to your needs, and will support you along the way. Personalised advice may be offered to you to help reduce your infection risk following treatment, such as good skin care routines after radiation therapy, staying at home, limiting contact with others, telehealth consultations and how to manage wounds post-surgery.
Although some breast cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapies can weaken the immune system, currently there is limited research available regarding cancer and COVID-19. It is therefore unclear how the virus may affect those with cancer. As such, it is recommended to be extra vigilant in protecting yourself.
Top 10 tips to help protect yourself from infection during breast cancer treatment
- Stay home as much as possible, working from home if you can
- Wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or use hand sanitiser if soap is not immediately available).
- Clean and disinfect surfaces regularly
- Keep an adequate supply of your prescription and over the counter medications
- Wear a fitted face mask and maintain a 1.5m physical distance between others
- Remind your family and friends to stay away from you if they are unwell
- Ask for help to limit your contact with others (e.g. getting a family member or friend to shop for your groceries or medication)
- Discuss with your doctor if tele-health appointments are an option during treatment
- Avoid touching surfaces in public places (e.g. handrails, elevator buttons) and your face
- Maintain a healthy diet, ensure you get adequate rest and exercise, and keep in touch with others through phone or video calls (e.g. Facetime or Skype)
If you start having cold or flu-like symptoms (e.g. cough, fever, shortness of breath or runny nose), it’s important to get tested for COVID-19 and inform your treatment team as soon as possible. To find a COVID-19 testing clinic close to you, click here.
If you are concerned about your breast cancer treatment plan, talk to your GenesisCare doctor and/or treatment team as soon as possible.
Restrictions are evolving in response to COVID-19. To find out more about current restrictions in your state or territory, click here.
For support and advice regarding concerns you may have about your planned breast cancer treatment, contact the BCNA Helpline (1800 500 258) or McGrath Foundation Breast Care Nurse Telephone Support Line (1800 183 338)
We understand the COVID-19 outbreak may affect your mental health and wellbeing. Your wellbeing is important to us, so here is a resource that could be helpful for you: Life in Mind Australia
Worried about face-to-face appointments?
Telehealth consultations are available. Find out more here.
Please note: The links below are outside of GenesisCare who cannot accept responsibility for the content.