On Monday 16th March, the government announced a series of stringent new measures to delay the spread of coronavirus and protect those most at risk of complications, including those with lung cancer, should they contract the disease.
Those at an even greater risk of “severe illness” from coronavirus are people:
- – with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy
- – with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia who are at any stage of treatment
- – with severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma (requiring hospital admissions or courses of steroid tablets)
- – who have received an organ transplant and remain on ongoing immunosuppression medication
- – with severe diseases of body systems, such as severe kidney disease (dialysis).
The current advice is anyone in the following classes should, by next weekend, stay at home for 12 weeks.
- – aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
- – under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (i.e. anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year):
- – chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- – chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- – chronic kidney disease
- – chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- – chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, a learning disability or cerebral palsy
- – diabetes
- – problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
- – a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
- – being seriously overweight (a BMI of 40 or above)
- – those who are pregnant.
If you are currently receiving treatment for lung cancer and are unsure whether to attend your appointment, or have any concerns, contact your clinical team and discuss it with them. Your clinical team will be best placed to advise you on what to do in your personal situation.
We are reassured that the NHS will continue to provide cancer treatments as normal. In the event of any disruption, clinicians will always make decisions to prioritise treatment for those in most need and in consultation with patients.
If you have lung cancer and start to experience symptoms of coronavirus, stay at home and contact your clinical team directly. Do not contact your GP or 111 as they are unlikely to have enough specific expertise to advice. Your clinical team will be best placed to advise you on what to do.
Advice to the UK population in general
The government is advising everyone in the UK to avoid “non-essential” travel and contact with others.
Everyone should avoid gatherings and crowded places. This includes pubs, clubs and theatres.
Employees are encouraged to work from home.
All “unnecessary” visits to relatives and friends in care homes and hospitals should stop.
Anyone with a cough and/or a temperature must self-isolate for 14 days. Everyone who lives with someone with these symptoms must also self-isolate for 14 days. Those people should avoid leaving the house, “even to buy food or essentials”. Instead, people are being encouraged to ask those not in isolate to deliver food or to use home delivery services.
We are all still encouraged to wash our hands more regularly for at least 20 seconds.
Use a tissue for coughs and sneezes. If you don’t have a tissue, use your sleeve. Discard in the bin immediately and wash your hands again.
Avoid touching your face, especially with unwashed hands.