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Busting coronavirus myths for cancer patients

An editorial published in Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention has detailed the precautions to be taken by those battling the dreaded disease.

Published: 27th March 2020 07:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th March 2020 07:55 AM   |  A+A-

Municipal workers go about their jobs wearing masks. (Photo | Shekhar Yadav, EPS)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: At a time when oncologists are worried over the emerging challenges to cancer care delivery in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, an editorial published in Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention has detailed the precautions to be taken by those battling the dreaded disease as well as cancer care providers.

The write-up has also sought to bust popular myths around the prevention of coronavirus. Authored by Abhishek Shankar, an oncologist at Delhi’s Lady Hardinge Medical College, the first-of-its –kind piece says that cancer patients, who are on immunosuppressants, could become easy targets for coronavirus as it spreads through community transmission.

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“Cancer patients are more susceptible to COVID-19 because of their systemic immunosuppressive state caused by the malignancy and anticancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy,” the article read. The piece, published on Wednesday, further reads, “This has been written for the immediate guidance of cancer patients and their care givers...there is an uncertainty as everyone is having issues as this disease is new.”

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Corresponding authors from India, Iran and the United States also contributed to the article. It said that the immediate risk facing cancer patients is the inability to receive necessary medical services (both in terms of getting to hospital and provision of normal medical care, once there) because of the outbreak. 

While it recommends hand and respiratory hygiene for cancer patients and care givers, the editorial debunked myths around prevention of COVID-19.

“Alcohol is used as disinfectant, spraying it on the body will not kill the coronavirus. In fact, chemicals can harm your body. No evidence suggests that coronavirus cannot survive in cold weather. Garlic has some antimicrobial properties, but there is no evidence that it checks the infection with coronavirus. Antibiotics neither prevents nor treats it,” it read. The researchers advised patients to postpone cancer screening procedures for some time and stressed regular follow-up to avoid hospital visits.

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