Not all Cancer Patients Equal When It Comes to Covid-19

Written by: Donna Oldenburg, MA, LCPC, NCC

Although COVID-19 restrictions have begun to loosen in Illinois, cancer patients and their families continue to weigh the risks of returning to their usual activities. This is especially true for patients with particular types of cancers. According to recent interviews with oncology and infectious disease experts from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, patients with blood cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia and multiple myeloma are most at risk, Dr. Steve Pergam, medical director of infection prevention at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, also stressed that those who have had a bone morrow transplant, or those who are currently in treatment or more recently post treatment are also at high risk.  “The risk extends beyond the period of active treatment,” added Dr. Gary Lyman, an oncologist and health policy expert at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center . According to Lyman, even those out of treatment may want to be extra cautious. “The after-effects of treatment don’t end when people finish their last course of therapy or leave the hospital after surgery. The after-effects of cancer and the immunosuppressive effects of treatment can be long term,” he added.