This page has information for people with breast cancer and their families. For general information on coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. If you have another type of cancer, the American Society of Clinical Oncology website has information on coronavirus for people with cancer.
The new coronavirus was first detected in China in late 2019. This coronavirus has been named SARS-CoV-2. It causes the respiratory disease COVID-19 (which stands for coronavirus disease 2019).
Most cases of COVID-19 are mild. However, some cases are severe and can lead to death.
For the latest information on the coronavirus, visit the CDC website.
People who are older or who have other health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, are at greater risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.
If you have breast cancer and are on chemotherapy or immunotherapy, or you have metastatic breast cancer, your immune system may be weakened. This means you have an increased risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
Check the CDC website and your local public health department website for the latest information.
Common symptoms of coronavirus are:
Some hospitals are also screening for runny nose and nasal congestion.
These symptoms tend to appear 2-14 days after exposure to coronavirus. However, a person may be contagious before symptoms appear.
If you have symptoms or have been in contact with someone who’s been diagnosed with COVID-19, call your doctor.
To avoid being exposed to coronavirus, the CDC recommends you:
For additional information about coronavirus (COVID-19) for people with cancer, visit the American Society of Clinical Oncology website.
This is a stressful time. To reduce stress, the CDC recommends:
Susan G. Komen®’s Breast Care Helpline:1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636)
Our Breast Care Helpline can provide information, social support and help with coping strategies related to anxiety or concerns during these uncertain times. Calls to the helpline are answered by a trained and caring staff member in English or Spanish, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET. You can also email the helpline at email@example.com.
Maybe. Hospitals have limited resources and staff and this may cause some surgeries and other procedures to be postponed. You may hear the term “elective surgery.” This doesn’t mean your surgery isn’t important. It just means it’s not urgent or life-threatening.
If you’re newly diagnosed with breast cancer and your breast surgery is postponed, it doesn’t mean you won’t get treatment right away. However, your first treatment may be chemotherapy or hormone therapy instead of surgery.
Many people already get chemotherapy or hormone therapy before breast surgery. This is called neoadjuvant therapy. Neoadjuvant therapy can increase your surgical options. If you have a large tumor, neoadjuvant therapy may shrink the tumor enough that a lumpectomy becomes an option to a mastectomy. Whether you get chemotherapy before or after surgery doesn’t impact your survival.
Now, more people will likely be getting neoadjuvant therapy. For example, if you will need chemotherapy after surgery, your doctor may postpone your surgery and start you on neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
Some women with very small estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers who will not need chemotherapy may get neoadjuvant hormone therapy for a period of time. These women will also be treated with hormone therapy after surgery as hormone therapy is given for 5-10 years, so not all of the hormone therapy will be given up front.
Remember, survival is the same whether you get neoadjuvant therapy or you get chemotherapy or hormone therapy after surgery. And, neoadjuvant therapy may increase the chance you can have a lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy.
If you have an aggressive breast cancer, your surgery will not likely be delayed. For example, if you have triple negative breast cancer and have completed neoadjuvant therapy, your surgery will not likely be postponed.
During this crisis, your doctor may offer phone or video consults instead of in-person office visits. This may be helpful for you, depending on the purpose of the appointment.
No. Going to the hospital is an essential service and is not affected by social distancing or shelter in place orders.
Many hospital now limit the number people you can bring with you to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Call your hospital or check the website for their current policies. Don’t bring someone with you who has a fever or cough.
If you have a fever, cough or other symptoms, that’s OK. It’s helpful to let your doctor know this before you go to your appointment.
Due to limits on resources and staff and to minimize exposure to COVID-19, your hospital or imaging center may postpone screening mammograms for some women. If you’re at average risk and have no signs of breast cancer and have had a mammogram in the past year or so, your mammogram may be postponed. Do not worry if this happens to you.
Study findings show for women 50-74, the benefits of mammography screening every year are similar to the benefits of mammography screening every 2 years . In fact, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends mammography screening every 2 years for women ages 50-74 . The American Cancer Society recommends mammography every 2 years for women, starting at 55 .
However, if you have any warning signs of breast cancer or notice any changes in your breast or underarm area, call your doctor.
Read Komen’s position on breast cancer screening during this crisis.
If you have questions about coronavirus (COVID-19) and breast cancer, visit the American Society of Clinical Oncology website.
Posted March 23, 2020
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