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The risk of contracting COVID-19 for patients with small cell carcinoma

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on March 30th, 2020

Patients suffering from small cell carcinoma are at a higher risk of getting infected with COVID-19 and developing severe complications considering that their immune system is extremely weak. This is why it's important that patients and caretakers respect all the protection measures imposed by health officials.

As the novel coronavirus is rapidly spreading through the U.S., many citizens are growing concerned about what will this pandemic mean and how it will affect society as we know it. As the studies conducted until this show, the ones most at risk seem to be the elderly and the people suffering from chronic underlying diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart problems, as well as those with a weak immune system and respiratory issues. Cancer patients are perhaps the most at risk during this pandemic, and it's extremely important that they take all the precaution measures to ensure they are protected from getting infected.

Small cell carcinoma and the risks for its development

Small cell carcinoma is a highly aggressive type of cancer, that most commonly develops in the lungs, being referred to as SCLC. It usually starts in the bronchi, and although the cells are initially small they grow quickly and create large tumors. In the majority of cases, the tumors spread very fast to other parts of the body such as the brain, liver, and bones.

Small cell lung cancer represents about 10 - 15% of all lung cancers, but it's considered the most aggressive form of lung cancer, with a very low life expectancy. However, if it's detected early it can be treated effectively before it advances. The problem with diagnosing it early is that it is usually asymptomatic, and once symptoms do appear it indicates an advanced state. This is why it's extremely important that people who know they have been exposed to various risk factors, constantly check on their health.

While the exact cause of SCLC is hard to determine, studies have shown that there are certain risk factors that can lead to it, such as smoking and environmental toxic exposure, particularly to asbestos which was highly used in various industries up until the 80s. Many former workers that have manufactured asbestos products or worked with installations or products containing it, such as mechanics, constructors, boilermakers, shipyard workers, Navy/Marine veterans or textile workers could be at risk for developing SCLC. Asbestos fibers usually enter the lungs through inhalation and can lead to inflammation and various types of respiratory diseases, or cancer. Symptoms can start showing even 20-30 years after the exposure has stopped and despite the fact that it has been most often linked to long time exposure, certain studies have shown that even workers with 1-12 months of exposure have had a higher risk of developing asbestos-related diseases.

COVID-19 risks for small cell carcinoma patients and protection measures

Studies conducted in China, have discovered that the risk of getting infected with the novel coronavirus appears to be twice as high for cancer patients than the general population. This is why most of the hospitals and doctors are proposing drastic measures to reduce the frequency of hospital visits from cancer patients such as postponing treatment and non-urgent surgeries for less severe cases.

From what we've learned until now, COVID-19 seems to be more aggressive than the common flu, attacking the respiratory system and especially the lungs. People already suffering from SCLC not only have low immunity which puts the body in the impossibility to fight off the infection and as their lungs are already damaged, but it facilitates the possibility of developing pneumonia and possible organ failure.

The risks seem to be especially high for patients currently undergoing chemotherapy or other forms of cancer treatment which can damage the immune system even more and getting treatment in the hospital can raise the risk even more.

The best measure that cancer patients can take at this moment is isolation and making sure that if any symptoms similar to those of COVID-19 appear, contact their doctor before going to the hospital or any other medical facility. If someone in your household of a family member is showing symptoms, try to avoid close contact as much as possible. Additionally, you should follow hygiene guidelines such as:

    • Washing your hands often and for at least 20 seconds.
    • Disinfect all surfaces that are more frequently used or touched.
    • Avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes.
    • Try to protect your mental health as well, by getting informed only from official sources and avoiding negative news.

Legal help for small cell carcinoma patients

If you develop small cell carcinoma as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos, you could be eligible for receiving financial compensation. Our firm has handled cases of asbestos exposure for over 20 years and we recovered over 1.4 billion dollars for our clients. Our legal team will carefully analyze your case and establish whether or not you are eligible for compensation and help you recover the sum that you are entitled to.

Because these cases usually have a statute of limitation of around 3 years, you need to move fast and contact us as soon as you receive your diagnosis, as this exponentially raises your chances of receiving the rightful compensation.