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Cancer & COVID-19

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Cancer patients may have weaker immune systems than the general public. This can make it difficult for your body to fight off an infection, which could make you very sick. Below you will find information about the COVID-19 virus and how it can affect people with cancer. 

Frequently Asked Questions

If I have cancer, am I more likely to get COVID-19?

No, it does not appear people with cancer are more likely to be infected.

If I get COVID-19, will I be sicker than those who do not have cancer?

People with cancer are more likely to have serious complications from COVID-19 than the general public. If infected, patients who are on active chemotherapy or scheduled for a bone marrow transplant are especially at risk for serious illness. Their immune systems can be severely weakened by treatment.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath – similar to what you may feel with influenza or a bad cold. Other symptoms can include:

  • Body aches and pains
  • Feeling very tired
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Diarrhea or nausea

What should I do if I start showing symptoms of COVID-19?

If you feel like you or a loved one are developing symptoms, schedule a COVID test and call your doctor. Remember that some people infected with the virus might not have symptoms, but can still spread the virus to others. Children, in particular, are likely to have fewer symptoms.

What should I do if I have tested positive for COVID-19?

First, call your doctor. According to the CDC, everyone (regardless of vaccination status) should.

  • Stay home for 5 days.
  • If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days, you can leave your house.
  • Continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.
  • If you have a fever, continue to stay home until your fever resolves.

What should I do if I have been exposed to someone with COVID-19?

The CDC recommends the following guidelines:
If you:
Have been boosted OR completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last 6 months OR completed the primary series of J&J vaccine within the last 2 months

  • Wear a mask around others for 10 days.
  • Test on day 5, if possible.
  • If you develop symptoms get a test, stay home and call your doctor.

If you:
Completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over 6 months ago and are not boosted OR completed the primary series of J&J over 2 months ago and are not boosted OR are unvaccinated

  • Stay home for 5 days. After that continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.
  • If you can’t quarantine you must wear a mask for 10 days.
  • Test on day 5 if possible.

If you develop symptoms get a test, stay home and call your doctor.

Should I still get preventative screenings for cancer during this pandemic?

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many screenings and elective procedures were put on hold to reduce the spread of the virus in healthcare settings. This led to a large drop in cancer screenings and increase of late-stage cancer being detected.

Regular cancer screenings are very important. If you had an appointment that was postponed or canceled, talk to your care team about rescheduling. OU Health has precautions in place to be sure that screenings and regular appointments are done as safely as possible.

If you have signs or symptoms of cancer, or have additional risk factors that put you in a high-risk category, talk to your doctor or care team today for guidance.

Can I get COVID-19 from a blood transfusion?

According to the American Red Cross, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through blood transfusion.

Will COVID-19 affect the clinical trial I am participating in?

Stephenson Cancer Center is working closely with national organizations to address any challenges posed by COVID-19. If you are currently participating in a clinical trial and have questions, please contact your cancer care clinic. They can provide specific information about your trial and discuss any changes to your appointment schedule.

What changes will I experience during my next visit to Stephenson Cancer Center?

While screening policies and procedures are subject to change as new information evolves, you will be screened upon entry to the building/hospital for your visit. Patients will only be allowed one visitor at their appointment. View OU Health's most updated Visitor Policy here.

For added safety, all individuals must wear a surgical mask inside the cancer center. All patients and guests must wear an approved medical-grade mask (not cloth) while at the cancer center. If you do not have a mask, we will provide one for you to wear during your appointment or treatment.

If you have any questions about COVID-19 and your cancer treatment, please contact Stephenson Cancer Center at (405) 271-1112.