Coronavirus (Covid-19) Advice
The following is information and advice on the coronavirus for people with cancer, including: symptoms, your risk if you have cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer) and what you can do.
Update: 24 March, 2020
The Government has now issued more stringent guidance in relation to tackling the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK. Please follow the links below for Government information and guidance on self-isolating, social distancing, and protecting those at most risk:
- Staying at home if you think you have coronavirus (self-isolating)
- How everyone can help stop coronavirus (social distancing)
- How to protect extremely vulnerable people (shielding)
You can also find Government information to help at this time, including on employment, financial support, school closures and childcare, here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Update: 18 March, 2020
NHS will contact those considered at high risk. For those currently considered at particularly high risk, including those receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy, the NHS will contact you from Monday 23 March, 2020. You will then be given specific advice about what to do.
You are asked not contact your GP or healthcare team at this stage – but wait to be contacted. See: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Coronavirus is a group of viruses that includes cold, flu and more serious respiratory illnesses such as SARS. This disease is a new corona virus, never seen before in humans called Covid-19.
Because this type of coronavirus has not been seen before, we currently lack vaccinations to prevent the disease or a cure. At present, we can only give treatments to manage the symptoms of the disease. Coronavirus has so far mainly affected adults and is more dangerous for older people, those with long term conditions or a compromised immune system.
The most common symptoms of coronavirus include a fever (raised temperature), a new continuous cough, and shortness of breath. For most people the virus is mild, however, some people will develop complications such as pneumonia and a small number of people will become seriously ill.
Am I more at risk if I have cholangiocarcinoma or have had it in the past?
It is too soon to know for certain how much greater the risk of infection is for people living with cholangiocarcinoma or who have had the disease in the past. However, it possible that your risk of coronavirus will be elevated, as will the risk of more severe symptoms.
If you are currently receiving treatment for cholangiocarcinoma such as surgery or chemotherapy, this may weaken your immune system and increase your chances of infection. It may also make it harder for your body to fight disease.
How can I reduce my risk/what can I do?
The best thing to do to reduce your risk of coronavirus is stay at home, and to follow Government, NHS and public health advice. The Government has now issued the following guidelines which must be adhered to.
- Stay at home – leave only for essential shopping, medical needs and exercise once a day
- Only travel on public transport if you need to
- Travel to and from work only if absolutely necessary
- Work from home, if you can
- Public gatherings of more than two people are banned (excluding those you live with)
- Don’t visit other people’s house or socialise outside your own home
- If unwell, isolate yourself and your family
The NHS recommends the following to protect yourself and to minimise the spread of coronavirus:
- Regularly washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Use hand sanitiser if soap and water are not available
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not hands) when you cough or sneeze
- Put used tissues straight into the bin and wash your hands afterwards
- Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell, or have coronavirus symptoms
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- Use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services
The UK government is advising that people with cancer should be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures. For guidance on social distancing, click here
If you think that you might have coronavirus, have been in close contact with someone with the condition or have returned from a country or area that is high risk, it is important to get in touch with your care team for advice, or contact NHS 111, make sure you tell the call handler about your cholangiocarcinoma and explain your concerns.
Will coronavirus affect my cancer treatment?
Clinicians will always do their utmost to prioritise treatment for those most in need and in consultation with patients.
Most hospitals have started to use more telephone consultations as a way of helping people to avoid long waits in clinics and for treatment. You may be called to arrange your treatments in this way, and planned treatments may need to be moved to help with running a smooth service.
Your clinical team are best placed to talk with you about the effect on your treatment and appointments. They will work with you to determine the best course of action in each individual situation. If you have any concerns or questions about your treatment, please speak to your clinical team.
For more advice on coronavirus when you have cancer click here
(This advice was updated 24 March 2020)
For updated information on the coronavirus, please refer to:
Advice on GP online service: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
Government information on employment, financial support, school closures and childcare: click here
Advice for the public from the WHO: click here
PHE (Public Heath England) Travel Guidelines: click here
For information on the government’s funeral restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here