January 31, 2020
Cancer patients and the coronavirus: What you should know
BY Jacqueline Mason
Last updated March 30, 2020
Here are seven things cancer patients should know about coronaviruses, including the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that was first detected in Hubei province, China.
What is a coronavirus?
Human coronaviruses are a family of viruses that are found throughout the world. There are seven known types. Four of those types (229E, NL63, OC43 and HKU1) cause only mild or moderate upper-respiratory illness, such as the common cold.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most people will get infected with one of these common types of coronavirus in their lifetime.
What makes the 2019 novel coronavirus different?
In rare instances, a coronavirus that originates in animals may evolve or “jump species” to infect humans. These viruses can cause more severe illnesses in people, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
The COVID-19 respiratory disease that was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, is believed to be the latest example of animal-to-person spread.
What precautions is MD Anderson taking to protect its patients?
The health and safety of our patients is our top priority. MD Anderson is closely monitoring COVID-19 and has implemented several measures for our patients, employees and visitors to ensure their safety. We are making new changes on an ongoing basis as the coronavirus situation evolves. Learn about the precautions MD Anderson is taking.
It is OK to travel to MD Anderson for my cancer treatment?
Decisions about whether to travel to MD Anderson for your care should be made in consultation with your medical team, including both your local provider and your MD Anderson provider.
I saw the word “coronavirus” in my lab test results in myChart. Does this mean I have COVID-19?
No. It means you were likely exposed to one of the more common types of coronavirus, and it showed up in your blood tests. Rest assured, it is not the same type of coronavirus disease, COVID-19, that is spreading around the world.
How can I protect myself?
You can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections with several simple strategies, including:
- Refraining from touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Washing your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or using an antiseptic hand gel.
- Avoiding crowded areas and sick people.
Where can I get more information about the 2019 novel coronavirus?
You can find additional information on the U.S. Department of State and the CDC site, including more COVID-19 FAQs.
If you have questions or concerns about how precautions MD Anderson is taking impact your care here, please contact your care team through MyChart or by phone. Outside of business hours, please call 1-877-564-1202.
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- What counts as COVID-19 exposure?
Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by calling 1-877-632-6789.