How COVID-19 can impact breast cancer patients

CSRA News

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Breast cancer patients developing COVID-19 is something doctors are monitoring. They are at higher risk for catching the virus, and it effects some more than others.

The Georgia Cancer Center hasn’t seen a lot of breast cancer patients catching COVID-19, and the ones they have seen were in a healthier state than those that need advanced care.

Hospitalized patients have a 56% chance of getting complications from COVID and 28% chance of dying. Comparing that number to the general public is 4.6% for complications and 2.3% fatality rate.

Doctors have to make the critical decision to delay treatment or give patients smaller doses.

Breast Medical Oncologist, Dr. Allen Krutchik, says, “Unfortunately, you have to balance the fact that if you lower the dose, the cancer may not respond as well as if they were to receive a 100% dose. On the other hand, the risk of death is so high in these group of patients that you have the way the complications of giving them a full dose vs. Reduced dose.”

This is because treatment suppresses a patient’s immune system.

As we know, COVID is airborne, so it is not only important you protect others by wearing a mask, but also yourself.

Doctors recommend if you’re around cancer patients including breast cancer patients, to get a more in-depth test.

These tests can include blood tests as well as chest X-rays.
For breast cancer patients who get coronavirus– long term complications can include lung scarring, respiratory problems, and neurological effects.

Testing for COVID-19 can also include cat scans of their chest.

“Some of these patients come in and they are not having any symptoms like cough, shortness of breath or fever, but if you did a cat scan on some of these cancer patients, who have been receiving chemotherapy before, you’ll see they’ll already have disease in their chest,” says Dr. Krutchik.

Signs of breast cancer can be unexplained back pain, headaches, weight loss and fatigue, as well as a lump on your chest or arm pit.

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