What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals. CDC is responding to an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in China and has now been detected in the United States and many other countries. The virus has been named SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes has been named coronavirus disease 2019, which is abbreviated COVID-19.
Am I at risk of getting coronavirus?
People who are older or who have other health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, are at greater risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.
If you have breast cancer and are on chemotherapy or immunotherapy, or you have metastatic breast cancer, your immune system may be weakened. This means you have an increased risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
Check the CDC website and your local public health department website for the latest information.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
• Shortness of breath
• Some hospitals are also screening for runny nose and nasal congestion.
These symptoms tend to appear 2-14 days after exposure to coronavirus. However, a person may be contagious before symptoms appear.
If you have symptoms or have been in contact with someone who’s been diagnosed with COVID-19, call your doctor.
Your Breast Health and COVID-19
What can I do to protect myself and my family?
To avoid being exposed to coronavirus, the CDC recommends you:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after going to the bathroom, before eating, before touching your face, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
• Avoid contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid crowds.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Stay home when you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• Ask people who come to your home to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer when they arrive.
• Stay home as much as possible.
For additional information about coronavirus (COVID-19) for people with cancer, visit the American Society of Clinical Oncology website.
What can I do to reduce stress?
• Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories about coronavirus, including social media.
• Take care of yourself. Try taking deep breaths, stretching or meditating. Try to eat healthy meals, get some exercise, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
• Make time to do things you enjoy, such as taking a walk, gardening, knitting, reading a book or cooking.
• Talk with others about your concerns and how you’re feeling. Call, FaceTime or Skype with family and friends.
Will my medical procedures be postponed?
Maybe. Hospitals have limited resources and staff and this may cause some surgeries and other procedures to be postponed. You may hear the term “elective surgery.” This doesn’t mean your surgery isn’t important. It just means it’s not urgent or life-threatening.
If you’re newly diagnosed with breast cancer and your breast surgery is postponed, it doesn’t mean you won’t get treatment right away. Many people receive chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or neoadjuvant therapy before breast surgery. Learn more about neoadjuvant therapy here: https://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/Neoadjuvant.html
If you have an aggressive breast cancer, your surgery will not likely be delayed. For example, if you have triple-negative breast cancer and have completed neoadjuvant therapy, your surgery will not likely be postponed.
What if I have an upcoming appointment with my doctor?
During this crisis, your doctor may offer phone or video consults instead of in-person office visits. This may be helpful for you, depending on the purpose of the appointment.
Can I still bring someone with me to my doctor’s appointment?
Many hospitals now limit the number of people you can bring with you to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Call your hospital or check the website for their current policies. Don’t bring someone with you who has a fever or a cough.
If you have a fever, cough or other symptoms, that’s OK. It’s helpful to let your doctor know this before you go to your appointment.