The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone aged six months and older, including breast cancer survivors and their caregivers, receive the seasonal flu shot.
People currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer and long-term survivors:
- are at higher risk for complications from the seasonal flu
- should get the seasonal flu shot, not the nasal spray vaccine
If you have had chemotherapy, radiation therapy or other breast cancer treatments in the past month, call your health care provider right away if you have any flu symptoms.
Find more information from the CDC about the seasonal flu.
Fertility options for younger women
Having a child after treatment ends
Some breast cancer treatments can affect fertility. If you wish to have a child after treatment ends, talk to your health care provider (and if possible, a fertility specialist) before treatment begins.
Learn more about fertility issues.
Chemotherapy can weaken your immune system, so it is important to consider a few things before starting treatment.
If your treatment will occur during flu season, it is important to get a flu shot before treatment begins. The flu shot now protects against the seasonal flu and H1N1 (swine) flu. To learn more, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
Women may wish to have a gynecological exam before starting chemotherapy. A positive result on a Pap test (Pap smear) almost always requires a slightly invasive follow-up procedure. Because chemotherapy can weaken the immune system, this procedure should take place before treatment starts.
Chemotherapy can also interfere with the results of a Pap test.
You should postpone routine dental visits until chemotherapy is over. Sometimes dental work can cause an infection in your mouth. Infections can be harder to treat when your immune system is weakened by chemotherapy.
If you have dental work or a cleaning that cannot wait until after treatment ends, you should go to the dentist before chemotherapy begins.
Although the above precautions are important, you should not feel the need to delay activities such as travel. In general, it is safe to travel by plane, train or bus while undergoing chemotherapy.
However, chemotherapy weakens your immune system. If you travel while on chemotherapy, it’s a good idea to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often to try to avoid infection.