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Here's what lung cancer patients need to know about the new coronavirus outbreak

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on March 17th, 2020

The world is currently facing an outbreak caused by the novel coronavirus, a new strain of the virus that was first discovered in China in 2019. The virus is called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and it causes a respiratory illness called coronavirus disease 2019.

As coronavirus infection continues to spread across the United States, the COVID-19 outbreak was declared as a national emergency by the President of the United States on March 13, 2020. Staying amidst an outbreak of respiratory disease, there will be certain people who will be at high risk of falling sick. Older people (above the age of 70), individuals with underlying health issues such as chronic lung disease (COPD, emphysema, asthma, lung cancer), chronic kidney disease, heart disease, and diabetes are at a high risk of developing major complications due to COVID-19 that may include the need of intensive care and even death.

Lung cancer patients are at greater risk of catching the coronavirus

The Lancet published a study conducted in China, which established that both former and current cancer patients are at increased risk of COVID-19. Lung cancer patients in their active treatment stage, which may include either surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy, and those who underwent bone marrow transplants are at high risk of contracting the virus. This is because active chemotherapy can lead to lower levels of white blood cells. The intake of immunosuppressive drugs is associated with immune-suppression and a higher risk of coronavirus infection. This risk extends beyond the active treatment period, which means that the immunosuppressive effects of treatment remain long-term.

Social distancing - a must for lung cancer patients

The people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus shed the virus from their respiratory tract (while coughing) during the prodromal period that involves very mild signs and symptoms.

The infected person during this time will perform usual functions and at the same time be infectious. This is the reason behind the widespread community transmission of COVID-19.

With the COVID-19 virus, the number of secondary infections that arise from an infected person is estimated to be 2-2.5, which means that a single infected individual can infect 2.5 people. An infected person will start shedding virus 3-5 days after the infection and can infect other people around. Therefore, a single case of COVID-19 can lead to as much as 244 new cases in just one month.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended 'social distancing' to control community transmission of COVID-19. The measures that help social distancing include avoiding crowded places and cancellation of mass gatherings, which can slow down the spread of the virus. If someone in your house falls sick, use social distancing, and follow hand hygiene measures. Avoid taking public buses and trains if possible. Take precautions and distance yourself from others if there is no other choice other than public transportation.

As per the CDC, a distance of 6 feet or 2 meters needs to be the minimum distance between individuals, and this has to be strictly followed by lung conditions patients while being outdoors.

Should a lung cancer patient get tested for COVID-19?

The nCoV infection is widespread in the US as there have been cases of community transmission. Currently, most people need to develop symptoms such as fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath before they can be tested. If you have any of these symptoms or if you suspect an infection, you should contact your doctor right away.

Lung cancer patients can improve their immune system

Sound sleep for ideally eight hours a night, exercises such as walking or jogging, and good nutrition can help lung cancer patients stay strong and healthy during the COVID-19 crisis. It is important to eat a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables.

In summary, here are a few important tips that help lung cancer patients face the COVID-19 outbreak successfully:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible
  • Ensure you have basic supplies and medications for several weeks
  • Avoid going to crowded places or poorly ventilated spaces
  • Keep away from sick people, limit close contact, and travel should be restricted to essential travel only.

If you struggle with lung cancer which is the result of asbestos exposure, you qualify for compensation

People with a history of asbestos exposure who developed lung cancer are entitled to compensation from asbestos trust funds and, if they are a veteran, from the VA as well. A lawyer who specializes in asbestos exposure cases will be able to help you file a claim to recover the compensation you deserve for your physical and emotional suffering. While the legal process is very complex, your involvement will be minimal, as you will only have to provide your attorney with your employment or military records and with your medical records, documents which will be used as proof of asbestos exposure and of related diagnosis. It is important, however, to keep in mind that cases which involve asbestos exposure have a statute of limitations of 3 years in the majority of states, which is why you need to take legal action as soon as possible if you have lung cancer which occurred as a consequence of asbestos exposure. Eventually, you will obtain the maximum compensation you are eligible for, which will also help you afford better healthcare and treatment.