It is the need of the hour to keep Covid at bay and get jabbed, stay safe during the pandemic, writes Dr SUHAS AGRE*
Cancer patients are vulnerable to Covid-19 which leads to high morbidity and mortality in them. It is the need of the hour to keep Covid at bay and get jabbed, stay safe during the pandemic by following the Covid protocol of masking, social distancing, and hand sanitizing. Likewise, embrace a healthy lifestyle to stay healthy during the pandemic.
According to ICMR’s report and the Bengaluru-based National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research, in India, the total number of cancer cases in men is estimated to be 6,79,421 in 2020 and may reach 7,63,575 in 2025. Among women, the total number of incidence cases is estimated to be 7,12,758 in 2020 and likely to reach 8,06,218 in 2025. Breast cancer (2,38,908) is expected to be the most common site of cancer in 2025, followed by cancer in the lung (1,11,328) and mouth (90,060). Unawareness, late presentation, and lack of timely treatment have made cancer the most dreaded disease. Many cancer patients are avoiding treatment during pandemic.
Having cancer can raise the chances of severe illness from COVID-19. Those taking chemotherapy have lowered blood counts and are immunosuppressed and more vulnerable to Covid-19 disease. Cancer tends to depress the body's immune system, and more cancer patients are older which a risk factor for Covid.
Since COVID-19 can attack the lungs and invite acute respiratory failure, people with lung cancer are at an increased risk of contracting Covid infection, as their lung function is already compromised. Not only this, some advanced cancers impact organ function, such as lung or kidney function. With reduced organ function, people find it difficult to fight Covid infection.
To avoid getting infected with Coronavirus, it is of utmost importance that cancer patients get vaccinated. Most experts recommend vaccination as long as the vaccine is safe for use, even if the expected protection rate in cancer patients may be lower than the general population.
Wash hands regularly or use a hand sanitizer, avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth. Maintain a safe distance and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Don't go to crowded places and don’t be around sick people. Be in touch with your doctor via teleconsultation and step out only for hospital visits but ensure proper care. Stay active at home and do low-impact exercises like walking or aerobics as the doctor’s suggestion.
Eat home-cooked food that includes all the essential nutrients, and avoid the junk, oily, spicy, processed, and canned food. Do not drink alcohol or smoke, and get a sound sleep at night to stay stress-free.
Stay safe and let others also be safe! (*The author is Medical Oncologist, ACI Cumballa Hill Hospital, Mumbai)