Lung Cancer and Coronavirus – Dr Murali Subramanian
For the past 6 to 7 months we all are living in fear. The world-wide Coronavirus pandemic situation has stolen the peace of our normal life. As this virus becomes deadly while attacking the lungs, naturally patients of lung cancer are very much worried and afraid of this virus. However, already lots of myths have been spread related to the connection between COVID-19 and lung cancer. Some of them are logical while rests are just a myth.
No need to say, the research data on the COVID-19 virus is fairly new for a detailed study about the interaction of novel coronavirus and lings cancer, but analyzing the trends of the virus attack, it’s unfortunate that patient with lungs cancer is at the highest risk of the fatality of this virus attack. The risk is almost twice in this case.
Now let’s come to the diagnosis part. While a patient is already suffering from lung cancer, the diagnosis of the coronavirus becomes a beat tricky. The symptoms of coronavirus are almost similar to that of lung cancer. In both cases, the patient experiences:
- Breathing problem
- Inflammation of lungs
Treatments: As usual social distancing is the best way to lower the chances of coronavirus attacks in lung cancer patients. Keeping this measure in the mind we, oncologist have modified the process of regular lungs cancer treatment accordingly.
Nowadays we are focused on
- Limiting the number of times for visiting the clinic or hospital.
- Avoiding or at least decreasing (when avoiding is impossible) the treatments that weaken the immune system
- Using telemedicine visits instead of in-person clinic visits.
However, in the case of immunotherapy treatment, we are still practicing the usual process because it’s not quite sure if the drugs used in such therapies, affect the immune system to fight against the coronavirus or not.
Prevention of complication: If you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy, you are indeed more exposed to the COVID-19 virus attack. To discuss you’re treatment plan and even the basic to basic side-effect symptoms with your doctor. Don’t ignore any of the symptoms as the common side-effect. Contact the doctor without any delay.
For example, while taking radiation therapy, an inflammation of the lungs is common in the case of some patients. In medical terms, we call it ‘’pneumonitis.’ The bad news it resembles the symptoms of pneumonia. So don’t wait for severe fever, chest pain, or breathing difficulty. Discuss it with your doctor instantly.
However, in the case of the COVID-19 attack, we can only suggest ‘prevention is better than cure.’ The reason is till now we are lacking any proven anti-viral treatment against the COVID-19. So, the maximum we can do is to take the measures that help our body to fight back against this virus. As I already said, a lung cancer patient going through radial treatment lacks immunity power so there remains the only way to protect yourself by avoiding the contact of an infected person. Besides, follow the COVID-19 preventive measure more strictly.
- Every time you cough, sneeze, or blow your nose, wash your hand with soap for 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Always wear a mask in public places. Even you can use a homemade mask but be sure that you are not removing your mask while outside. And yes, don’t touch the outside of the mask even after coming back home.
- Main social distancing, even of wear a mask. If you feel comfortable it’s better to use a face shield over the mask.
- If you have a plan of surgery, discuss it with your doctor if you can be delayed.
- Try to do routine breathing exercises as per your doctor’s instruction to maintain your lung health and reduce the probability of the clinic visit.
Hope this session has helped you out to understand the link between COVID-19 and lung cancer. Although we can’t prevent the infection in extreme cases, at least we can try to protect your selves. So stay home, stay safe, and hope for the best. It’s time to bid goodbye but doesn’t hesitate to write to me if you have further questions.