The coronavirus outbreak has had a massive ripple effect throughout the United States, and mesothelioma patients are caught in it.

The spread and fear of COVID-19, which is one of many types of coronavirus diseases, has led to event cancellations and international travel restrictions. Celebrities and professional athletes have contracted the virus, and the number of U.S. cases is closing in on 2,000.

People with mesothelioma should be especially cautious. The current state of their health and immune system leaves them vulnerable to the worst of the coronavirus.

We at Mesothelioma Guide want all mesothelioma patients — and anyone close to a patient — to take immediate precautions regarding their lifestyle. We have outlined information explaining why mesothelioma patients should be alarmed, plus some safety tips to follow throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

We also understand that, as a mesothelioma patient, you may have further concerns about how the coronavirus can impact you. Jenna Campagna, our patient advocate and registered nurse, is available to answer any questions. Please email her at jenna@mesotheliomaguide.com if you wish to speak with a medical expert.

 

Why Mesothelioma Patients Are at Risk of Coronavirus

The coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. has shown little sign of slowing down. According to the New York Times:

  • The number of U.S. cases eclipsed 1,600 on March 13
  • Nearly all of the 50 states have had at least one case
  • The majority of U.S. cases have been in California, Texas, Washington and the upper northeast
  • At least 41 Americans have died due to the virus

From March 1 through March 10, there were more new cases reported each day than the previous one. On March 12, there were around 400 new U.S. cases, marking the largest spike since the virus reached the country.

Regardless, mesothelioma patients remain at risk of infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said people with respiratory ailments or diseases are in particular danger. According to the organization, people who have lung disease are at a higher risk of getting a severe case of coronavirus.

The coronavirus is a respiratory illness, similar to the flu or common cold. The virus targets your lung, where the disease then replicates over and over until it overwhelms the lung’s otherwise-healthy cells.

Mesothelioma often develops in the lining of the lung cavity. This form of mesothelioma is called pleural mesothelioma, and the disease often spreads to the lungs and other parts of the thorax.

A pleural mesothelioma patient’s immune system is already struggling and lungs are already full of diseased cells. Contracting coronavirus, in addition to having mesothelioma, can overwhelm the patient’s body. The results could include lung swelling, cellular or fluid waste, cellular growth in the lining of the air sacs, and irregularly giant cells.

 

COVID-19 coronavirus

The COVID-19 coronavirus can severely impact mesothelioma patients.

Coronavirus Precautions Mesothelioma Patients Should Take

Mesothelioma patients should do whatever they can to keep safe from the coronavirus. Here are a few steps you, as a patient, can take to stay far away from this disease:

  • Avoid large crowds: Many organizations are canceling events with large crowds, including professional sporting events and political rallies. Since the disease is contagious, many people become infected due to being at an event and near someone with the virus.
  • Don’t travel by air or public transportation: We recommend avoiding airplanes, trains, subways, buses and other forms of travel where you’ll be in a large crowd. Car trips should be OK, but prioritize cleanliness. If you have treatment scheduled outside of your hometown, attempt to have it moved to a local facility.
  • Consider delaying in-person doctor visits: If you’re not on active treatment, then you shouldn’t risk going to a place where infected people may be present. Also, you can reduce the stress on hospital staff. If you have any questions or concerns, call the doctor’s office and ask to speak with the nurse.
  • Don’t touch your face, eyes or mouth: Coronavirus can enter your body even if an infected person doesn’t cough or sneeze on you. The disease can live on surfaces, which you may touch without thinking twice. If so, then you can deliver the virus into your body with the touch of your hand or fingers.
  • Wash your hands often and effectively: Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time. Do this before eating, after touching surfaces in public (including door handles, railings and more), and after using the bathroom.
  • Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces: These items could include anything from basic household appliances to countertops. They are easily infected, and the virus can transfer from the object or surface to your hands.
  • Respond to symptoms immediately: Consult with your doctor if you show any coronavirus symptoms. Get tested as soon as you can.
  • Protect against other viruses: Coronavirus isn’t the only disease that can affect mesothelioma patients. As a precaution, consider getting vaccinated for influenza.

 

Similarities Between Mesothelioma and Coronavirus

Aside from both affecting the lungs, mesothelioma and the COVID-19 coronavirus have other similarities.

Coronavirus causes flu-like symptoms, such as coughing, fever, fatigue, sore throat, shortness of breath and trouble breathing. These symptoms also apply to mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma, in particular, often leads to shortness of breath.

Coronavirus and mesothelioma are also alike in whom they can affect. Any person can develop either disease.

Coronavirus is contagious and spreads easily from person to person. The spread of this coronavirus occurs from droplets emitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These virus-containing droplets can then enter your body through the nose or mouth.

Mesothelioma is not contagious and only forms due to asbestos exposure. However, this characteristic also means anyone who comes into contact with asbestos is in jeopardy.

Dr. Peter Lin, a family physician in Toronto, Canada, spoke about the coronavirus on a CBC News video published on YouTube.

 

Why the Elderly Are at Risk

Coronavirus and mesothelioma also each have the worst effect on the elderly. Mesothelioma develops more often in older people because it can take multiple decades to fully form. Elderly mesothelioma patients often have shorter survival times than younger ones because their body isn’t strong enough to withstand the cancer.

While coronavirus forms much quicker than mesothelioma does, the elderly often are not strong enough to fend off the virus as easily as younger patients.

The CDC backed up the belief that older people are at an increased risk. The center’s report states that older people are two times as likely to contract a severe case of coronavirus.

An article from the New York Times reported that a coronavirus outbreak at a nursing home in Seattle, Washington, resulted in seven deaths. The article also cited statistics that 15% of coronavirus patients age 80 or older die from the disease.

 

Coronavirus Outbreak Leads to Event Cancellation

As previously stated, the coronavirus pandemic has led to canceling or postponing numerous events. Holding a spot on this long list is the International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma.

The annual event, which was originally scheduled for April 6-7 in San Antonio, Texas, has been postponed to a later, undetermined date. The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, which hosts the Symposium, published a statement explaining the decision.

“As you are all well aware, our patient population is at the highest risk for complications from a possible infection with this virus, so this course of action seems most responsible,” the statement reads. “Moreover, in consulting with physicians who treat mesothelioma patients, we learned that some institutions have begun banning work-related travel.”

The Symposium is a well-attended event by mesothelioma patients, their loved ones and their caregivers. The two-day conference includes presentations from some of the top mesothelioma doctors and researchers in the country.

Attendees learn about the available treatment options and emerging trends related to mesothelioma. They also can participate in an on-site clinical trial. Some of the noteworthy experts scheduled for this year’s Symposium include:

  • Dr. Daniel Sterman, the director of the Multidisciplinary Pulmonary Oncology Program at New York University Langone Health
  • Dr. Joseph Friedberg, the chief of thoracic surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center
  • Dr. Charles Simone, the chief medical officer of the New York Proton Center
  • Dr. Keith Cengel, the executive director of the Penn Medicine mesothelioma program
  • Dr. Taylor Ripley, the director of the mesothelioma program at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center

If you have registered for the event, you can either ask for a full refund or keep your registration for the rescheduled dates. There is no time limit currently for registrants to decide, as the new dates for the event haven’t been announced. You can email info@curemeso.org to get in touch with an event staff member.

Hotel reservations must be canceled prior to 48 hours before the arrival date to avoid a charge. Contact the event’s hotel partner, Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk, to cancel your reservation.

For flight changes or cancelation options, please contact your airline. Each one has its own policies regarding the coronavirus outbreak.

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Devin Goldan image

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is the content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.

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    Devin Golden

    About the Writer, Devin Golden

    Devin Golden is the content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.