Beating bowel cancer together

Shielding vulnerable patients from coronavirus

Page updated: Monday 23 March 2020

Some people with cancer are more at risk of becoming seriously ill if they contract the COVID-19 infection. The Government has produced guidance for these ‘extremely vulnerable’ people. Read the guidance in full here.

We’ve produced a summary of this guidance below to help you understand what this may mean for you. People who fall into the following groups will be receiving a letter from the NHS this week (week commencing Monday 23 March):

This includes:

  • People with cancer who are undergoing treatment for chemotherapy
  • Anyone who has had chemotherapy tin the last three months
  • People who are having radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
    • This includes people with bowel cancer whose cancer has spread to the lung.
  • People receiving immunotherapy treatments.
  • People currently having chemotherapy
  • People who have finished chemotherapy in the last three months
  • People receiving any cancer treatments which can affect their immune system, for example protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors.
  • People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months, or who are still taking drugs to suppress their immune system.

The guidance also includes:

 

  • Anyone who has ever had a solid organ transplant.
  • People with severe respiratory conditions including everyone with cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • People with rare diseases that increase their increase the risk of infections (such as Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) and homozygous sickle cell).
  • People taking drugs that weaken their immune system and significantly increase their risk of infection.
  • People who are pregnant with significant heart disease.

If you think you fall into one of these groups and you have not received a letter by Sunday 29 March 2020 or been contacted by your GP, you should speak to your GP or hospital clinician.

People who fall into this group need to practice ‘shielding’ to reduce their chance of coming into contact with coronavirus. Shielding involves:

  • Staying at home at all times and avoiding any face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks from the day you receive your letter (this period of time could change).
  • If you think you have developed coronavirus symptoms such as a new, continuous cough or fever, seek clinical advice using the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111. Do this as soon as you get symptoms.
  • Visits from people who provide essential support to you can continue (e.g. healthcare, personal support with your daily needs or social care) but your carers must stay away if they have any of the symptoms of coronavirus.
    • Where possible, you should have an alternative list of people who can help you with your care if your main carer becomes unwell. You can also contact your local council for advice on how to access care.
  • If you have someone else living with you, they don’t have to adopt these ‘shielding’ measures for themselves. They should do what they can to support you in shielding and they should strictly follow guidance on social distancing and reducing their contact outside the home.

If you are going to find shielding difficult without additional support, please visit gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable from Tuesday 24 March 2020 to register for the support that you need. This includes help with food, shopping deliveries and additional care you might need.

  • People receiving immunotherapy treatments.
  • People currently having chemotherapy
  • People who have finished chemotherapy in the last three months
  • People receiving any cancer treatments which can affect their immune system, for example protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors.
  • People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months, or who are still taking drugs to suppress their immune system.

 

See all our Coronavirus advice and guidance

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