Living With Cancer and COVID-19: What You Need To Know
During our recent webinar, “Living With Cancer and COVID-19: What You Need To Know,” Dr. Stuart Samuels, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, shared important information about the impact of COVID-19 for women facing breast and ovarian cancer. We received several questions following the webinar and Dr. Samuels is pleased to answer your questions below. If you have additional questions and would like to speak with a member of Sharsheret’s clinical staff, please contact us at 866.474.2774 or [email protected].
Question: Should people continue to have port flushes?
Yes, port flushes should be continued. Port flushes usually occur every 4-6 weeks but it can be safe to wait up until three months between flushes. Speak with your provider and discuss lengthening the intervals between flushes as to minimize the amount of times you are in contact with the health system.
Question: Are cancer clinical trials being cancelled during this time?
Clinical trials are not being cancelled but they are being put on hold. Most national trials have paused enrollment because the support staff that runs the trials is considered nonessential and not reporting to work. There may be some institutional studies that are still active but it depends on what institutions are running at each site. But as a rule, all national trials are being suspended.
Question: Should people continue to go in for hormonal therapy such as Lupron injections?
Yes. Hormonal therapies are an essential part of cancer care so they should be continued. Lupron injections can be given at different intervals so you should speak with your provider about the longest amount of time possible between injections. Increasing the length of time between doses will cause fewer encounters with the health system. If someone is new to injections, his/her doctor may administer the first doses at short intervals. But if someone has been receiving Lupron for a while, he/she may be able to tolerate a 4-6 month injection without issue.
Question: Do Keytruda infusions cause immunosuppression?
No, Keytruda does not make a person immunocompromised. Keytruda is an immune stimulant meaning it activates the immune system. While it does stimulate the immune system, it is unclear if it affects the part of our immune systems that fight viruses.
Question: If someone has had their spleen removed, does it make them more susceptible to the virus or make you less able to fight it?
No. Most people can tolerate viruses without their spleen and splenectomy patients do not have to take extra precautions for this virus. However, if they do contract COVID-19, they are more likely to develop a bacterial infection as a complication of the virus.