Coronavirus and Cancer

Coronavirus vaccine and cancer

You may have questions about the coronavirus vaccine, especially if you are being treated for cancer.

Macmillan Cancer Support have answers to many of the most common questions on their website.

Coronavirus and cancer

If you have cancer, you might still be worried about how coronavirus affects you. People with cancer may be at a higher risk of infection, so the most important thing is to follow the advice from the NHS and your healthcare team.

The symptoms of coronavirus include:

  • a high temperature of above 37.8C and, or
  • a new continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different from normal.

If you have symptoms, contact your cancer advice line, chemotherapy helpline or acute oncology service if you have these symptoms and you are having cancer treatment or have cancer that affects your immune system.

If you have symptoms but you are not having cancer treatment, get advice and support from the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111.

If your cancer means you’re more at risk

The cancer you have, or the kind of treatment you are receiving for cancer, could mean you are more at risk of becoming seriously ill if you were to get the COVID-19 infection.

For example, if you:

  • are undergoing active chemotherapy
  • are having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
  • are having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP (poly-ADP ribose polymerase) inhibitors
  • are undergoing intensive (radical) radiotherapy for lung cancer
  • have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  • are at any stage of treatment for cancer of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma

This guidance is for people who have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable.

If you have had cancer in the past

After treatment for cancer, your immune system usually recovers over time. So, if you’ve had cancer in the past, it is unlikely you’re extremely vulnerable if:

  • it’s some time since you finished treatment
  • you don’t have one of the other specific conditions listed on the government link above
  • you haven’t received a letter.

Please remember you might be extremely vulnerable even if you aren’t receiving treatment and you have cancer of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma.

If you are unsure of your risk and what measures you should be taking, speak with your hospital specialist or contact your GP.

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