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The risk for COVID-19 complications for squamous cell carcinoma patients

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on July 14th, 2020

People who struggle with squamous cell carcinoma are more susceptible to developing severe complications to the new virus since the chemotherapy and radiotherapy they undergo weaken their immune system to a great extent. Consequently, they should take extra precautions during the pandemic.

As the second most common form of skin cancer, SCC occurs in over 1 million people in the U.S. every year. While not as aggressive as melanoma, it is still a very serious disease, which annually claims the lives of 15,000 individuals throughout the country. One aspect which makes it a dangerous and life-threatening disease is the fact that, unlike other skin cancers, it can spread to adjacent tissue, lymph nodes, and bones, thereby affecting the entire body. Because of cancer itself, but also because of treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, people who suffer from squamous cell carcinoma are significantly more prone to developing complications to COVID-19 than the demographics which do not have such a diagnosis.

Why are squamous cell carcinoma patients more prone to complications from COVID-19?

At the moment, the U.S. is still the country with the largest number of diagnosed cases of coronavirus. Among the people with high risk when it comes to the novel coronavirus, there are individuals who suffer from squamous cell carcinoma, as their immune system is compromised due to the cancer treatment they undergo. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy weaken the immune system to a great extent, which is why people who struggle with cancer are more susceptible to developing severe complications.

Recognizing the symptoms of the virus is crucial during the pandemic. The main symptoms of the new virus are shortness of breath, a persistent cough, and fever. However, people who have this type of cancer are also more likely to experience serious health complications which may include:

  • severe muscle pain
  • heart attack
  • irregular heart rate
  • acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • fatigue
  • cardiovascular shock

Consequently, if you notice any new symptoms, we strongly advise you to seek medical attention immediately, as the new virus may be fatal to you. Only a medical professional will be able to tell you whether you became infected with the new virus or have the common flu.

If you are an SCC patient, you should take extra precautions to avoid contacting the new virus. Some of the protective measures you need to follow in order to prevent coronavirus infection are:

  • wash your hands when you come home from outside for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
  • avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes if you have not thoroughly washed your hands previously
  • only leave your home if there are emergencies such as purchasing groceries or medication
  • disinfect the objects and surfaces you use frequently on a regular basis
  • wear a face mask if you have symptoms to avoid contaminating other people
  • keep up to date with the news concerning the new virus to learn about other protective measures you should take to prevent infection

Squamous cell carcinoma and asbestos exposure

The main cause of squamous cell carcinoma is frequent exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds. However, there are other risk factors which contribute to its development such as a history of skin cancer in the family, having fair skin, being a man, recurring infections and skin inflammation from burns or scars, being over 50, infection with HPV, exposure to radiation, having blonde or red hair, as well as a weak immune system.

Although exposure to asbestos has not yet been proven to lead to SCC, there are several medical studies that suggest a connection between the two. For instance, a research published in the journal Molecular and Clinical Oncology in 2017 reveals that this type of cancer was present in 38.4% of the people who took part in the study, namely 146 men who were working in industries with heavy asbestos exposure - shipbuilding and constructions - and who were also smokers. Thereby, a link between asbestos exposure and squamous cell carcinoma may exist, since asbestos fibers are microscopic and can easily attach to the skin, subsequently causing a form of skin cancer.

People who have SCC may be eligible for compensation

While squamous cell carcinoma is rarely the consequence of asbestos exposure, people in this situation are entitled to financial compensation. If you struggle with it and have a history of occupational asbestos exposure, please reach out to us and our medical experts will examine you to see whether asbestos fibers are present in your body. In the regrettable case the tests are positive, our attorneys, who have been pursuing asbestos exposure cases for the last 30 years, will help you file a claim with asbestos trust funds, as well as with the VA if you are a veteran. Eventually, you will recover the maximum amount of money you are eligible for, which can also help you afford superior healthcare and treatment.