Thinking About Waiting Out COVID-19 Before Getting Cancer Treatment? Understand the Risks Before Putting Care on Hold
During a time of pandemic and public health directives, people living with cancer may ask themselves, “Should I delay my care until COVID-19 fades away?” They want to get the treatment they need to fight a serious illness, and they also want to be sure they’ll be safe when they visit the clinic or doctor’s office. The question is one that City of Hope Newport Beach addresses with the benefit of decades of institutional expertise in caring for immunocompromised cancer patients.
Here, patients coming to start or resume a course of treatment amid coronavirus concerns will experience a highly safe and supportive environment. City of Hope Newport Beach clinicians and staff will continue to provide lifesaving care while taking every step possible to reduce the risk of viral transmission.
“Cancer treatments, as well as the cancer itself, can weaken the immune system, and a compromised immune response increases a person’s COVID-19 risk,” said Ravi Salgia, M.D., Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research at City of Hope, who leads the physician team in Newport Beach. “Recognizing this, it must also be recognized that cancer does not stop on account of a pandemic. Patients whose care teams take rigorous precautions to safeguard against COVID-19 will be best served by proceeding with their cancer therapy, in keeping with their physician’s guidance.”
Much research remains to be done to fully understand the relationship between cancer and COVID-19. However, the risks of delaying cancer care are real. “The evidence shows that postponing important treatment leads to poorer outcomes for patients with many types of cancer,” said Dr. Salgia.
Patients in active cancer treatment are not the only ones who need to think seriously about resuming clinic visits. Otherwise healthy patients who forgo recommended screenings may reduce or miss out on the benefits of early detection.
“With access to much-needed preventive care disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, vital screenings for breast, cervical and colon cancer fell up to 94 percent in March, according to data from medical records vendor Epic,” Dr. Salgia said. “This is of great concern. People who miss their screenings altogether may miss the opportunity to catch cancer at an early stage, where we can provide more treatment options.”
If you have a personal or family history with any type of cancer that’s subject to screening or if your regular screening was canceled, talk to your doctor. The data speaks strongly, especially for breast and colon cancers: Early detection results in cancers that can be treated and patients that can be cured. So, be sure to ask your doctor if it’s time to get back on track with your routine cancer checkups.
The world order may change, but some things do not, such as the need to care for yourself and your body, which includes cancer screening and treatment. Susan G. Komen encourages men and women to schedule their needed screenings and continue talking with their physicians about care during the pandemic. Komen OC is proud to have a partner, like City of Hope Orange County, that is committed to the health and wellbeing of our Orange County community members.
To make an appointment with a physician at City of Hope Newport Beach, please call (949) 763-2204. For more information, please visit cityofhope.org/OC.