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COVID-19 and Cancer Treatments - Information for Patients

FAQ for BC Cancer patients about novel coronavirus COVID-19
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The global COVID-19 pandemic is an evolving situation. Updates to this page will be made as the situation develops, and this information is currently up-to-date as of March 23, 2020. The best source of up-to-date information on COVID-19 in British Columbia is the BC Centre for Disease Control website.  

If you are feeling well, it is important to ensure your cancer care continues as scheduled. If you are experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever or shortness of breath call your cancer centre to determine whether you should reschedule your appointment.  

If you are under the public health requirement to self-isolate following travel, please do not come in to the centre without calling and speaking to staff.

BC Cancer is working to provide additional telephone visits for patients. Some patients with a scheduled appointment coming up will be contacted by BC Cancer to offer a telephone appointment. Those who do not receive a call should come into their centre for their appointment as scheduled if they are feeling well and not under a restriction to self-isolate. 

All treatments are going ahead as planned unless you are contacted otherwise. 

Some imaging tests may be postponed. Patients will be contacted if their test appointment is affected. Unless otherwise notified, please come in for your scheduled test appointment if you are well and not under a restriction to self-isolate. 

BC Cancer patients are at a higher risk for more severe symptoms associated with COVID-19. To protect all vulnerable patients and limit the risk of exposure for patients and staff, patients attending follow up appointments or receiving treatment within a BC Cancer centre will be required to attend by yourself

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be emotional and some patients may feel overwhelmed. New patients who are visiting a BC Cancer centre for a first visit/initial consultation may bring one adult support person to accompany them. Patients who require a support person to accompany them to subsequent appointments will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is the same as what you probably already do to avoid influenza, colds and other illnesses. The most important thing you can do to prevent COVID-19 and other illnesses is to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face.
 
Washing your hands properly means using soap and water and washing for at least 20 seconds. You can also use hand sanitizer with alcohol in it. However, if your hands have dirt or food or anything else on them, you should use soap and water. Hand sanitizer may not clean the debris away as thoroughly as washing with soap and water. 

If you have to cough or sneeze, try to do so into your elbow or a tissue. Immediately wash your hands afterwards. Stay away from other people who are ill. If you are sick yourself, stay away from others. 
There is a wide range of symptoms for people with COVID-19 ranging from no symptoms to severe pneumonia. 

It is possible that cancer patients are at a higher risk of more severe symptoms because of their lowered immune system due to medications and treatment. Like other healthy people, they should do their best to avoid infection. This includes: 

  • Avoiding crowded public places
  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water (20 to 30 sec)
  • Avoid touching their face 
  • Covering their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Avoiding others who are unwell
  • Staying home when sick
If you are unsure, please take the BC Ministry of Health COVID-19 self-assessment tool at: covid19.thrive.health and follow the instructions based on your symptoms. If it is recommended that you self-isolate you are asked to reschedule your appointment. 

Our advice for cancer patients is the same as for any other person. If you are healthy, wearing a mask is not recommended. The most important way to protect yourself is by washing your hands properly and avoid touching your face. Masks should only be used if you are sick to prevent transmission to others.

 

At this time, it is not necessary to request additional refill quantities from your pharmacy.  


You do not need to stockpile medication. Stockpiling medications is harmful to the drug supply and could put others at risk. Your BC Cancer pharmacist can advise on the appropriate amount of medication to be dispensed.  

BC Cancer pharmacies are making arrangements to deliver medications to patients where possible, to reduce the number of patients who need to come to the centre. Please call your pharmacy to arrange for your refills.

If you are feeling unwell and require medications, please do not visit your pharmacy. Instead, call your pharmacy and they will arrange to safely provide you with any medications you may need.

Patients requiring transportation to get to their appointments can contact their local BC Cancer regional centre for assistance.


  • Abbotsford: 604-851-4710
  • Kelowna: 250-712-3900
  • Prince George: 250-645-7300
  • Surrey: 604-930-2098
  • Vancouver: 604-877-6000
  • Victoria: 250-519-5500  

You can find trustworthy information about COVID-19 by visiting the website of the BC Centre for Disease Control

Patients currently enrolled in a trial or who have already provided written informed consent for a trial will continue on with the trial and study procedures. Recruitment for many clinical trials is being suspended at this time. Non-intervention clinical research studies, such as biomarker and imaging studies, may be continuing recruitment. If you have questions about the status of your trial please call your study nurse or the principal investigator.

 
Last updated March 23, 2020




BC Cancer
 
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