Posted on March 25th, 2020
Since the new strand of coronavirus has started to spread, first in China and now through the entire world, scientists have been trying to learn more about its effect as well as what is the most vulnerable group of people who could develop severe complications and the disease's mortality rate among them.
There are still many unanswered questions regarding this virus, but it's clear that the ones with the highest risk of getting infected are the elderly (over 65) and those with compromised immunities and comorbidities, including those who are undergoing chemotherapy. Although in 80% of the population it can manifest with only mild symptoms, it can have catastrophic effects for cancer patients, and this is the case with any type of viral infection especially in the period right after a chemotherapy session when the immunity is at its lowest. This risk becomes magnified during a pandemic, as the mortality rate of COVID-19 appears to be higher in cancer patients.
Throat cancer refers to malignant tumors that can develop in the pharynx, larynx, and tonsils. Amongst other factors, this type of cancer has been linked to occupational asbestos exposure as it is known that inhaling asbestos fibers can lead to numerous health issues. As these fibers pass through the larynx before reaching the lungs, they can penetrate the laryngeal tissues, get embedded in its lining and create severe inflammation that can lead to cancer.
The first study that found a connection between throat cancer and asbestos exposure was conducted in 1960 and it reviewed around 1500 workers with high asbestos exposure. The conclusion was that the number of deaths of throat cancer was 28% higher than expected. The Institute of Medicine concluded based on the result from 34 studies that people with moderate exposure to asbestos in the workplace have a 40% higher chance of developing throat cancer than those with no exposure, while people with a high exposure like asbestos miners or construction workers had up to triple the risk.
Patients with a weakened immune system are at a high-risk because their bodies are unable to fight off a virus and they might even activate an excessive immune response called a cytokine storm. This is defined by an overproduction of immune cells which in cases of infections like COVID-19 activates into the lungs, resulting in inflammation and fluid buildup that can lead to pneumonia or respiratory distress.
Cancer therapies such as chemotherapy are necessary for the process of reducing the spread of cancer cells and killing them, but they can also affect other organs such as the kidneys, weaken the heart muscles and drastically reduce the body's ability to produce white blood cells. This can put the body at high risk in case of any viral infection, not just COVID-19, as it makes it practically impossible to fight off and it can lead to organ failure and death. This is why it's extremely important for cancer patients to isolate and protect themselves against the novel coronavirus.
When it comes to COVID-19 the best way you can protect yourself and your loved ones is through social distancing and home isolation. And this goes especially for those who are currently undergoing chemotherapy and battling with throat cancer, as their immune system is extremely weakened.
At this moment it is unclear what will happen with those who need to go to the hospital for their chemotherapy or radiation treatments, but it's best to consult your doctor before going to the hospital, as that can increase the risk of getting infected even more. Additionally, there are a couple of useful guidelines that can help you better protect yourself against COVID-19:
If your throat cancer diagnosis is because of asbestos exposure at work, handling asbestos or its products, you may be eligible to file a claim with one of the asbestos trust funds. Taking into account the current COVID-19 pandemic, we advise you to initiate the legal process as soon as possible and seek legal assistance. At Environmental Litigation Group, P.C., we have over 20 years of experience in handling cases of asbestos exposure and helping clients recover their rightful compensation. We will thoroughly evaluate your case and check whether you qualify for filing a claim. If you are eligible for compensation, our team will handle all further steps involved in the legal process including preparation and submission of the required documents so that you can completely concentrate on your health.
Our law firm has been successful in recovering compensation of over $1.4 billion for asbestos victims so far and will certainly help you, too. We work on a standard 40% contingency fee. This means we only collect the money after the claim is resolved.