Last week, we published an article explaining how the COVID-19 coronavirus affects people with mesothelioma. Since then, our staff at Mesothelioma Guide has received numerous questions from concerned readers.
We have answers to those questions — and any others you might have.
Our goal, as always, is to provide you with factual, complete and in-depth information regarding mesothelioma. Right now, batting this cancer overlaps with staying safe from coronavirus infection.
Our on-staff registered nurse, Karen Ritter, is available to speak with you about any concerns you have. She’s available via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), phone call or online chat message.
Additionally, we have compiled a list of the questions we are receiving about how mesothelioma patients should respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Below are our answers to the most common questions.
How Much of a Risk Do Mesothelioma Patients Face?
People with mesothelioma are at a high risk of developing a severe case of coronavirus. The presence of mesothelioma weakens your immune system. This hinders your body’s ability to fight back against viruses like the coronavirus.
Additionally, mesothelioma and coronavirus are similar. Coronavirus is a respiratory illness that targets your lungs. Since mesothelioma often forms in the lining of the lungs, tumors can spread to this organ.
How Should I Handle Doctor’s Appointments or Treatment?
Going to the hospital could put you at risk of exposure to the virus. Therefore, we recommend seeking alternatives.
Ask if you can attend your doctor’s appointment virtually (via phone call or video call). If this is not possible, then postpone all non-urgent medical care.
Ask your doctor whether you should continue (or begin) scheduled mesothelioma treatment sessions. Some methods, such as chemotherapy, can weaken your immune system even more.
My Family Member Is a Mesothelioma Patient and Lives With Me. What Should I Do?
You don’t want to become infected with the coronavirus and have it spread to your loved one. Take precautions: Wash your hands regularly, disinfect surfaces and objects, limit how often you leave your home, and keep a safe distance from others. As an extra safeguard, stay at least 6 feet away from your loved one — unless you’re their caretaker and they need your assistance.
I Am a Caretaker of a Mesothelioma Patient. Should I Stop Working?
Staying inside your home will reduce your risk of contracting the virus. If you can work from home, you should consider doing so. Your employer may also provide extra paid time off to allow employees to stay safe.
Many Americans are unable to work from home, though. We don’t want anyone to struggle financially due to taking time off from work, so please do what you think is best. Consult with your employer’s HR representative first to learn your options.
What Precautions Should I Take With Visitors?
Stress to visitors that, as a mesothelioma patient, you are vulnerable to a severe case of coronavirus. Take the temperature of all visitors before they enter your home. Additionally, ask if they’ve experienced any of the common coronavirus symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, body aches, etc.).
What Should I Do if I’m Taking Immunosuppressing Drugs?
If you’re taking immunosuppressants, then your body may be hindered in fighting a coronavirus infection. Speak with your primary care provider to discuss what to do in the event you get sick.
What Should I Do if I Need Medication?
As previously stated, try to leave the house as little as possible. Request any prescriptions be delivered to your residence. Another option is asking a family member — who does not live with you — to pick them up and drop them off at your home. Ask that they wash their hands before touching the medication.
Are Asbestosis Patients at a Greater Risk of Coronavirus?
Asbestosis, just like mesothelioma, is caused due to asbestos exposure. While the disease isn’t cancerous, it is a respiratory health condition that scars the lungs and leads to breathing issues.
COVID-19 also is a respiratory disease that affects the lungs. Therefore, asbestosis patients are at an increased risk of developing a severe case of coronavirus.
How Does the Coronavirus Spread?
The virus is contagious. It usually spreads through direct human interaction.
COVID-19 spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes, which releases droplets. These contaminated droplets can enter another person’s body through the nose, eyes or mouth.
What Are the Symptoms of the Coronavirus?
The symptoms of this coronavirus are similar to the flu: fever, body aches, coughing, sore throat, fatigue, diarrhea and runny nose. The other common coronavirus symptom is shortness of breath.
What Else Can I Do to Protect From Coronavirus Infection?
There are numerous safety measures you can take. We’ve stated a few of them above, but here is a list to follow during the coronavirus outbreak:
- Avoid large crowds.
- Don’t travel by plane, train, bus, subway or other public transit.
- Consider delaying in-person doctor visits.
- Avoid touching your face, nose or mouth.
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.
- Disinfect objects and surfaces.
How Does the Coronavirus Affect Cancer Patients?
Cancer suppresses the immune system, so cancer patients have difficulty fighting illnesses like COVID-19. Many cancer patients are on chemotherapy, which further hinders the immune system and weakens the body.
When Should I Contact a Doctor if I’m Worried I May Have the Coronavirus?
If you show coronavirus symptoms, then consult with a doctor as soon as possible. Get tested immediately. As a mesothelioma patient, you should not put your health in further jeopardy.
Sources & Author
- Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19). World Health Organization. Retrieved from:
https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses. Accessed: 03/11/2020.
- People at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html. Accessed: 03/11/2020.
- Pulmonary pathology of early phase 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pneumonia in two patients with lung cancer. Journal of Thoracic Oncology. Retrieved from:
https://www.jto.org/article/S1556-0864(20)30132-5/pdf. Accessed: 03/12/2020.
- Protecting Against Coronavirus Disease 19. Moffitt Cancer Center. Retrieved from: https://moffitt.org/patient-family/protecting-against-coronavirus-disease-19/. Accessed: 03/18/2020.
- Patient education: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) (The Basics). UpToDate. Retrieved from:
https://www.uptodate.com/contents/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-the-basics. Accessed: 03/18/2020.
- Coronavirus Resource Center. Harvard Medical School. Retrieved from:
https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/coronavirus-resource-center. Accessed: 03/19/2020.
Sources & Author