Chemotherapy during the COVID-19 pandemic
While everyone in the world is living in fear of contracting COVID-19, there are many others who are already living with scary diseases. Cancer patients, especially, require serious medical intervention during their treatment; an important part of which is Chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy targets and controls the growth or destroys cancer cells in the body. Most people who are given chemotherapy are required to come to a hospital for the treatment, and with the on-going pandemic, patients are apprehensive about such visits.
According to Dr.TejinderSingh, Consultant Medical Oncology, the standard guidelines state that cancer patients who are advised chemotherapy should avoid any delay in their treatment in order to stop the progression of the disease. That said, oncologists would most likely asses the benefits and risks for every patient individually.
While people who have taken chemotherapy in the last three months, have undergone a transplant, have other co-morbidities or are suffering from blood disorders/cancers are at high-risk; patients that are young and healthy, require a low dosage of chemotherapy and have cancers that can be easily treated, are likely to experience more benefits than risk-factors from receiving chemotherapy.
Once it is established that a patient is safe to undergo chemotherapy, it should be ensured that the hospital follows strict infection-controlprotocols. At Apollo Hospitals Navi Mumbai, every patient is screened at the gate, and anyone who is suspected to be symptomatic is further tested in a separate section of the hospital. Patients with fever, cough or other such symptoms will not be allowed access to the building, will be asked to get tested for COVID-19 and may be given medicinal chemo-tablets until they are healthy enough for radiation.
Inside the hospital, the staff practices strict social distancing, wears protective gear (PPE) and takes every necessary precaution to avoid transmission of thevirus.
In conclusion, as long as the patient stands to receive more benefits than risks and visits facilities that are safe with stringent protocols in place, there is no reason for patients to avoid or delay chemotherapy.