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most probably. But there is a lack of conclusive evidence supporting this.
Cancer patients with COVID19 are at increased risk of severe complications and require more ICU and ventilator support.
However the increased risk is driven by associated non cancer co morbidities like advanced age, presence of hypertension , presence of cardiovascular diseases etc . rather than cancer per se.
Most cancer patients can successfully initiate and complete their treatment even in these difficult times.
Analyses have shown that most patients can continue with different forms of cancer treatment like chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy and hormonal therapy.
As per various guidelines including Indian Council of Medical Research it is not mandatory that all cancer patients should undergo testing for COVID.
Guidelines for COVID testing in cancer follow the same principles as in non cancer patients. So patients presenting with fever , breathlessness , cough and sputum production or viral illness like symptoms , history of travel or a positive contact history with COVID patient are tested prior to their treatment.
Avoid frequent visits to hospital/day care. Discuss options of tele consultation with your physician.
Proper, meticulous and frequent hand washing.
Using face mask/ gloves and if possible PPEs when visiting hospital or crowded places.
Avoid frequent touching of face, eyes and nose.
And most importantly if you suspect any COVID related symptoms immediately inform your treating physician.
All cancers that are curable must continue their chemotherapy (For example early breast cancers post surgery)
All advanced cancer patients should continue their palliative chemotherapy if they are symptomatic. If asymptomatic or with a prior very good response to chemotherapy a periodic observation can be considered.
If immediate surgery is not possible options of pre operative or neo adjuvant chemotherapy can be considered. As far as possible frequent visits and hospitalization to be avoided. Some injectable chemotherapies can be considered to be switched to oral therapy.
Targeted therapy/Immunotherapy/ Hormonal therapy can be continued.
We at AMRI have a fever clinic and a dedicated task force to handle COVID related issues.
All patients are screened for COVID related symptoms and contact history prior to hospitalization/or OPD consultation.
All suspected cases are kept in isolation till their COVID screening results are ready.
We have conducted OPD consulations , in patient admissions and day care chemotherapies as per guidelines led down by the Government.
Over the last 3 months we have delivered approximately chemotherapy / immunotherapy/targeted therapy in our hospital.
We have also successfully managed few blood cancer patients in spite of shortage in blood donations. This was possible with prior meticulous planning and resource allocation.
We have tried to avoid frequent hospital visits for our patients.
Tele consultation is being routinely used and we have been able to reach our patients in the remote corners and addressed their health issues.
Some patients have been able to continue with their chemotherapy at the District chemotherapy centres. Although we do not personally promote that, considering the complications associated , some of the patients have been benefitted.
Many cancer surgeries have been conducted as most of these patients present with emergency. All patients undergoing surgery are tested for COVID prior to surgery.
Many cancer patients who were undergoing treatment outside Odisha ; have not been able to travel for their treatment. Such patients have been treated and followed up.
Overall we have not got a single cancer patient with COVID positivity in last 3 months and it has been a satisfactory experience.
I would thank all my patients for their faith in our team for their treatment.
Difficult times stare at us.
Still we can win over cancer if we all work together.
U can safely continue with your diagnosis and treatment.
But as I have suggested before triage need to be done for each and every patient. You and your oncologist are the best persons to do that.
Maintain universal precautions to minimize the risk of transmission.
Discuss options for tele consultation with your oncologist.
Patient specific guidelines have been laid down by many national and international cancer societies such as ESMO, ASCO , ISMPO to better manage cancer patients .Patients and their caregivers should go through these guidelines and discuss it with their oncologist.