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Mar 20, 2020

Cancer Patients and Coronavirus

This is a special edition of The Cancering Show. Dr. Jennifer Young Pierce and guest Dr. Jennifer Scalici discuss some of the most critical and unique information concerning the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and how it relates explicitly to cancer patients and their cancer treatment. The pandemic is a serious health situation, especially for anyone with any pre-existing medical conditions, including patients currently diagnosed with cancer and undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy. While this is an anxious time for the medical profession and patients, knowing the vital information, following the prescribed hygiene guidelines, maintaining social distancing and being vigilant about our overall health, will help us get through this time together. Stay healthy, be kind to others and stay strong.


Key Takeaways

> Consult your physician about any upcoming cancer treatments, surgeries and routine appointments.

> MCI wants to reduce COVID-19 exposure for cancer patients when the urgency of a surgical procedure is not imperative.

> Overall outcomes and survival rates depend on maintaining and finishing your cancer treatments.

> If you are having COVID-19 symptoms, our recommendation is to stay home, stay indoors, self-quarantine and call your doctor for further instructions.

> If you are feeling well and your treatments are going well, consult your physician and consider rescheduling your appointments one to three months out.

> MCI patients can come to the Mitchell Cancer Institute safely and expect that they will not encounter any symptomatic employees or patients in our facilities.


The Docs Said:

MCI buildings are secure and symptom-free. A patient can come to the cancer center safely and expect that they will not encounter any symptomatic employees or patients at the cancer center. - Dr. JYP

We have a visitor policy, one visitor per patient; those visitors are also screened in person at the door. It's an effort to protect both our patients and our staff. - Dr. Scalici

If you are having symptoms, the recommendation is to stay home, stay indoors, self-quarantine and call your doctor for further instructions because most instructions after that will depend on your health and medical history. - Dr. Scalici

There are some cases where we don't have the option to postpone surgery. If so, we're going to continue at that point to do those time-sensitive surgeries in more urgent cases. - Dr. Scalici

It becomes tough to start new immunotherapy in the face of a potential pandemic like COVID-19. - Dr. Scalici

Once you start radiation treatment, you want to finish radiation. Overall outcomes and survivals really depend on that. - Dr. Scalici

There are no plans to halt radiation, so from start to finish, we want to stay within the prescribed period because people do better. - Dr. Scalici

I think it's very reasonable for patients to stay home and socially distance themselves. We're asking those patients to stay home and can keep in close contact with us to let us know how they're doing. - Dr. JYP

We know that if you've had any medical problems before, the COVID-19 risk is probably a little bit higher. This risk is not truly specific to cancer. - Dr. Scalici

Grandparents, maybe it's time to visit the grandkids via Facetime. - Dr. Scalici

Limit your exposure to others, and if you have to be out, maintain a six-foot space away from other people. - Dr. JYP

Take advantage of the technology to connect with your friends and family, but please take the social distancing guidelines and warnings seriously. - Dr. Scalici


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The Cancering Show is brought to you by USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute at the University of South Alabama. MCI is a cutting-edge cancer research and treatment center built to fight cancer smarter in Mobile and Baldwin counties in Alabama. Our researchers and clinicians focus daily on the struggle against cancer, serving a potential catchment population of more than 4.1 million people, with a singular focus of advancing cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention throughout the Gulf Coast and beyond with science, technology and hope.

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