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 Table of Contents  
EDITORIAL
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 310-311

COVID-19 and Self-Care Measures by Chemotherapy Patients


School of Nursing and Midwifery, Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan

Date of Submission20-May-2020
Date of Acceptance04-Jun-2020
Date of Web Publication04-Sep-2020

Correspondence Address:
MScN Khairunnisa Mansoor
School of Nursing and Midwifery, Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi
Pakistan
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/apjon.apjon_20_20

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How to cite this article:
Shams S, Mansoor K. COVID-19 and Self-Care Measures by Chemotherapy Patients. Asia Pac J Oncol Nurs 2020;7:310-1

How to cite this URL:
Shams S, Mansoor K. COVID-19 and Self-Care Measures by Chemotherapy Patients. Asia Pac J Oncol Nurs [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Oct 19];7:310-1. Available from: https://www.apjon.org/text.asp?2020/7/4/310/294312



Coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) is decreed as a global health emergency by the World Health Organization. COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a virus. The first case of this infectious disease was determined in China in November–December 2019.[1] Subsequently, disease became pandemic and currently involving a population of more than 200 countries.[2] The symptom of the disease includes fever, cough, sore throat, body ache, difficulty in breathing, and others. Everyone is at risk because of the contagious nature of the disease, but individuals more at risk include older adults, immunocompromised sometimes referred to as immunosuppressed patients, and chronically ill patients.[3] This short article is trying to capture preventive measures for oncology patients under chemotherapy treatment regardless of their cancer site. It is well known that most chemotherapeutic drugs are immunosuppressing in nature that is they weaken the immune system of the body and leading it to functionally diminish. The immune system is the gatekeeping system of the human body that monitors and prevents germs and microorganisms entry in the body. Hence, chemotherapy patients can easily get infections from the environment. However, cancer patients have to undergo a difficult pathway of chemotherapy treatment to sustain their lives. Religiously following the care aspect that normally chemotherapy patients are recommended may help in preventing COVID-19 infection.

First and foremost is frequent hand washing with soap and clean water.[4] In the case of an outside home, hand sanitizer with at least 60% of alcohol could be effective in killing germs. Keeping oneself clean during an infectious disease outbreak is of utmost importance for chemotherapy patients. Moreover, living conditions should also be cleaned to prevent chemotherapy patients from acquiring infections from the environment. Thorough washing of fruits and vegetables before consuming them. In addition to that, peeling off the outer covering of fruit and vegetable could also minimize the risk of getting germs into the body. Equally important is clean utensils used for cooking and dining. Freshly cooked food has less chances of contaminations. Fruits and vegetables are proven to hold antioxidant properties.[5] Hence, they hold efficacy to boost the immune system to fight germs.[6] Vegetables and fruits are rich sources of folic acid, Vitamins C and E, and the vitamin A precursor β-carotene. Intake of micronutrients and vitamins helps in the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and effective immune responses.[7] High fluids intake is also effective for the stability of the internal environment and the flushing of chemotherapy drugs outside the individual body. Fluids can also prevent skin issues such as dryness with some of the chemotherapeutic agents. Boiled water is preferable for drinking. Home remedies such as soups, tea, warm honey water, and others may help in prevent throat irritation because fluids with high temperatures hold the potential to kill microorganisms.[8]

The physical distance of at least 2 meters m during social contacts and especially with people who have a common cold symptoms. Avoiding unnecessary social calls and staying home is best for chemotherapy patients. Wearing of a medical mask by chemotherapy patient may prevent getting corona germs, especially when chemotherapy patient is out of home and when a family member has flu or other respiratory issues. Proper use and disposal of a mask is also vital that is the colored portion of the mask should be outside and disposal of the mask when it is damp in a covered dustbin. Mask is a personal protective equipment. Hence, it cannot be shared. Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth to prevent the transfer of viruses into the upper respiratory tract. Socialization at crowded places should be avoided because you never know who is suffering from corona infection. If you are working individuals, then staying at home and working from home is preferred these days. However, other means of socialization is highly important to maintain psychosocial health and well-being. Social isolation, when going through difficult times that is chemotherapy treatment, may further aggravate psychological symptoms of anxiety and fear. Open communication with family members, friends, and health care professionals about the feeling you are going through because of COVID-19 global pandemic may help in ventilating negative feelings and improve patients' mental well-being. Asking questions or clarifying information from healthcare professionals could be helpful in correcting the myths and wrong information that might be bothering you. Healthy methods of promoting well-being should be practiced and these include spiritual/religious practices, listening to music, watching relaxing TV show or movie, involving in household or job task according to energies, spending times with loved ones or any other activity that relaxes the mind, and promote well-being.

Besides doing measures to promote physical and psychological health. Get in touch with healthcare professionals. Hence, that you can report your health status to them and resolve queries that you may have. Usually, chemotherapy dose results in side effects. However, closely monitoring the symptoms postchemotherapy is highly important to prevent secondary infection because of COVID-19. It does not mean one has to panic for symptoms that are common to coronavirus. However, getting touch with healthcare professionals through helpline numbers may help or use risk screening apps for home testing. Excessive visiting healthcare institutions may increase the risk of getting exposed to the micro-organisms. With that, it will increase the burden on healthcare institutions and professionals, who are already under pressure due to the outbreak of the contagious disease. With that, it may hinder individuals from getting access to care and resources who genuinely need that.

On the other hand, if your chemotherapy treatment is scheduled in the near future, it is advisable to go for that treatment and do not miss it. In such instances, it is advised that the patient contact the health care provider and ask them for guidance. Medical oncologists will weigh the risk of missing the treatment to the consequences of the patient being exposed to the virus and then communicate with you. It is possible that a doctor may consider delaying your treatment. But in the event that the doctor clears the visit to the hospital for treatment, it is imperative that the patient go for the treatment.

These measures could be vital in protecting oncology patients under chemotherapy treatment. Hence, it is recommended that these suggestions are followed.

Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge Ms. Zohra Jetha (Senior instructor, AKUSONAM) for her support in the reference section.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
WHO Director General. Media Briefing; 11 March, 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19---11-march-2020. [Last accessed on 2020 May 19].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Dai M, Liu D, Liu M, Zhou F, Li G, Chen Z, et al. Patients with cancer appear more vulnerable to SARS-COV-2: A multicenter study during the COVID-19 outbreak. Cancer Discov 2020;10:783-91.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Li Q, Guan X, Wu P, Wang X, Zhou L, Tong Y, et al. Early transmission dynamics in Wuhan, China, of novel coronavirus-infected pneumonia. N Engl J Med 2020;382:1199-207.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
COVID-19 Patient Care Information Available from: https://www.asco.org/asco-coronavirus-information/care-individuals-cancer-during-covid-19. [Last accessed on 2020 May 13].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Bub A, Watzl B, Blockhaus M, Briviba K, Liegibel U, Müller H, et al. Fruit juice consumption modulates antioxidative status, immune status and DNA damage. J Nutr Biochem 2003;14:90-8.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Stanford Health Care: Nutrition Services for Cancer Patients. Available from: https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-clinics/cancer-nutrition-services/reducing-cancer-risk/antioxidants.html. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 08].  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH. Contribution of selected vitamins and trace elements to immune function. Ann Nutr Metab 2007;51:301-23.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Paul IM, Beiler J, McMonagle A, Shaffer ML, Duda L, Berlin CM Jr. Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2007;161:1140-6.  Back to cited text no. 8
    




 

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