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Patients With Gastrointestinal Cancer, at High Risk of Contracting Coronavirus

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on March 18th, 2020

Because people who struggle with gastrointestinal cancer have a very poor immune system, they are prone to contracting coronavirus, which could be fatal. The reason for which they have such a weak immune system is the cancer treatment they undergo.

As everyone has become aware of until now, coronavirus is rapidly spreading throughout the world, causing panic and chaos among numerous communities. So far, hundreds of thousands of cases have been diagnosed, whereas over 8,000 deaths have been recorded. Even though no one is safe from the virus, certain demographics are at high risk of developing serious complications if they contract it, such as the elderly, children and people with cancer, since they have a very weak immune system.

What Causes Gastrointestinal Cancer?

Gastrointestinal cancer, as the name implies, occurs in the stomach and the intestines, being the fifth most common malignant disease in the world at the moment. While 1 in 95 men will develop gastrointestinal cancer in his lifetime, 1 in 154 women will receive this awful diagnosis. When it comes to what causes it, the following are only some of the risk factors:

  • a diet low in fruits and vegetables and high in salty food
  • infection with the bacteria H. pylori
  • chronic stomach inflammation
  • tobacco smoking
  • a family history of gastrointestinal cancer
  • asbestos exposure on the job

The latter cause has only recently been revealed by medical studies. During the last century, asbestos would be heavily used by numerous industries, which led to 20% of the people who worked as electricians, construction workers, boilermakers, power plant workers, insulators, shipyard workers and other jobs to develop terrible diseases. While lung disease is the most prevalent among these occupational groups, they can also develop gastrointestinal cancer, as asbestos fibers, once they enter the body, remain there forever. By traveling through the bloodstream, asbestos fibers can reach various organs, including the stomach or the intestines, to which they will attach themselves to. Afterward, they will gradually cause inflammation and tissue scarring, giving way to cancer.

How Can Gastrointestinal Cancer Patients Contract Coronavirus?

As people who suffer from gastrointestinal cancer have a very weak immune system, they are susceptible to contracting coronavirus, which can be fatal. The reason for which they have such a weak immune system is the cancer treatment they undergo chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery. Since gastrointestinal cancer treatment is so aggressive, the immune system of the person undergoing it on a regular basis decreases dramatically and, as a consequence, they are at high-risk for infection. The health complications patients with gastrointestinal cancer who contracted the virus can develop are shortness of breath, confusion, difficulty standing up, chest pain and bluish lips or face.

Infection with the coronavirus occurs mostly through breathing in the virus from the air, but it can also take place by touching contaminated surfaces and not washing your hands properly afterward. When the infection is located in the upper airway, the risk of severe complications is lower in cancer patients. However, if the infection reaches the windpipe and, subsequently, the peripheral branches of the respiratory system and the lung tissue, the risk increases considerably. The lungs are vital organs and, if they are seriously affected by the coronavirus, they will become significantly damaged, placing the person suffering from cancer at high risk of life-threatening complications.

Safety Measures for People Who Struggle with Gastrointestinal Cancer

To make sure you, as a gastrointestinal cancer patient, remain safe during the coronavirus epidemic, you should follow the advice below:

  • avoid coming in contact with people who look sick
  • wash your hands carefully for at least 20 seconds
  • avoid crowds as much as possible
  • do not touch your face if you did not wash your hands thoroughly priorly
  • clean your phone, computer, doorknobs, and desk with sanitizing wipes regularly
  • seek medical attention immediately if you experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, a persisting cough, fever, sore throat or runny nose

Gastrointestinal Cancer Patients May Be Eligible for Compensation

Finally, if you suffer from gastrointestinal cancer and believe it stems from occupational exposure to asbestos, it is a good idea to reach out to a law firm which specializes in this area of practice, as their attorneys and legal team will be able to help you recover the financial compensation you deserve. By filing a claim, the companies which manufactured the asbestos products you handled on the job will be held liable. Your involvement in the legal process will be minimal and you will eventually recover enough money to help you afford superior health care and treatment.