Cancer and Coronavirus (COVID-19)
This page provides advice and information from the NHS and GOV.UK
The coronavirus disease, called COVID-19, is front and center of many people’s minds. We understand that people with cancer and their families might feel especially worried about coronavirus. This is because cancer treatment can weaken immune systems and people with cancer are amongst those at higher risk of complications as some treatments can lower your ability to fight infection.
You should also follow the NHS advice if your relative or friend is having or has recently had cancer treatment. Or if, for any reason, a relative or friend might have a lower ability to fight infection.
Where possible obtain advice over the phone rather than attending in person to lower your risk of exposure and to reduce the risk of exposing others.
If you have had any cancer treatment within the last 8 weeks
It’s very important that you ring the Chemotherapy Helpline, not NHS 111, even if you think your symptoms are most likely to be coronavirus infection. If you’ve had recent treatment, there’s a chance that your symptoms might be a complication of your treatment, and not coronavirus. Some complications of treatment can be life threatening if not assessed quickly, and NHS 111 won’t be able to assess you as quickly as the Chemotherapy Helpline can.
If you have NOT had any cancer treatment for more than 8 weeks
If you think your symptoms are coronavirus, it is ok for you to contact NHS 111 online instead. However, if you have any doubt, or feel seriously unwell, we would still prefer that you contact the Chemotherapy Helpline first.
If you are unwell after receiving chemotherapy treatment please contact the chemotherapy helpline which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For any other queries please contact the Cancer Support Line - you may have concerns about accessing community support, work queries, financial and benefit queries, or need somebody to talk to. We will do our best to answer your query and signpost you to further help and support.
Many oncology appointments are currently being carried out over the telephone and you should receive a call from the hospital at least 24 hours before your appointment.
If you have not heard from the hospital 24 hours before your appointment, please contact the following numbers:
Macmillan Unit – Calderdale Royal Hospital: - 01422 222700
Greenlea Unit Ward 7 – Huddersfield Royal Infirmary: - 01484 343600
For chemotherapy appointment queries please contact: - 01484 342155
You can also request that your outpatient appointment happen over the telephone if you are self isolating.
If you have queries about chemotherapy appointments, please contact the chemotherapy nursing team on 01484 342155.
If you are due to attend a hospital appointment but cannot please contact the relevant number above to cancel. If your appointment is cancelled, you will be notified in a timely manner.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, or if not immediately available use an alcohol-based hand rub. It is especially important to wash your hands before eating or drinking.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (mobile phone, tables, light switches, door handles, sinks, toilets, any eating surfaces).
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as this can transfer the virus from surfaces.
- If you take prescription or over-the-counter medication, make sure you have enough at home or in a place that you are able to access
- Avoid contact with those who are sick or unwell or have been exposed to the virus or may be at higher risk due to recent travel to a high-risk country.
- Avoid crowds and crowded areas and avoid unnecessary physical contact, such as shaking hands, hugging or kissing. This is especially important if you are currently having chemotherapy.
Please see the following link with Guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people
The government is constantly reviewing the advice about coronavirus. The NHS website has all the latest information about the coronavirus and how to protect you and your family.
Further information about the UK government response is available on the GOV.UK website.
After the 1st August 2020, the government are advising that high-risk patients and their family members don’t need to continue to shield from coronavirus.
Whilst the risk of catching coronavirus is currently decreasing, it hasn’t completely gone away. If you are currently on treatment for cancer, or have had treatment previously, you might be at increased risk of complications if you caught coronavirus. This may be because your immune system (which normally fights off infections) doesn’t work so well due to the cancer treatment, or because the cancer directly affects your ability to fight off the infection.
Even though the government are ending shielding from the 1st August, it’s worth considering how you can still reduce your risk from coronavirus.
Try to reduce contact with others outside the home.
Work from home where possible
Use online shopping deliveries or ask someone else to do your shopping.
Outdoor exercise is low risk if social distancing is maintained, and the benefits of this outweigh any risks.
Try to reduce the risk of catching the Coronavirus outside your home.
Consider wearing a mask outside of the home (although this shouldn’t be necessary for outdoor exercise if social distancing is maintained.)
Use hand sanitiser frequently
Avoid crowded areas where possible
Maintain social distancing of 1-2 metres
Try to reduce the risk of transmission of Coronavirus in your home:
Use hand sanitiser and wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds
Keep shared spaces well ventilated
Use separate towels and, if possible, use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household, or clean the bathroom frequently.
Ensure all kitchenware is cleaned thoroughly or use your own set of crockery.
Any essential carers or visitors who support you with your everyday needs can continue to visit, unless they have any of the symptoms of coronavirus. All visitors should wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, on arrival and often, and should wear masks/appropriate PPE.
If you need some help with your shopping, claiming benefits, have work queries or need to talk through your concerns, please contact the Macmillan Information and Support Team who are running a Cancer Support Line - 01484 343614; 01422 222709 or firstname.lastname@example.org . They will be able to advise on what help is available depending on your circumstances.
You can also continue to register as vulnerable and needing support with shopping, via the two local councils NHS Volunteer responder service. Or the Macmillan Information service can do this for you if you do not have access to the internet:
For Calderdale residents - follow this link - https://calderdale.gov.uk/v2/coronavirus/community-support/request-support
For Kirklees residents https://my.kirklees.gov.uk/service/Communities_and_volunteering___Requesting_support_during_the_Covid_19_crisis or phone 01484 226919
Of course, the government may advise that shielding restarts if infection rates increase, either locally or nationally. Keep an eye on the news, or the latest government advice can be read at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19
If you become less well
The most common symptoms of coronavirus infection are:
- A new cough
- Chills or shivering
- Aches and pains
We want to make sure that you are assessed by the right person if you are unwell. Our Chemotherapy Helpline is still available 24 hours every day: 01422 222999.
If you have had any cancer treatment within the last 8 weeks, it’s very important that you ring the Oncology Helpline, not NHS 111, even if you think your symptoms are most likely to be coronavirus infection. If you’ve had recent treatment, there’s a chance that your symptoms might be a complication of your treatment, and not coronavirus. Some complications of treatment can be life threatening if not assessed quickly, and NHS 111 won’t be able to assess you as quickly as the Oncology Helpline can.
If you have NOT had any cancer treatment for more than 8 weeks, and think your symptoms are coronavirus, it is ok for you to contact NHS 111 online instead. However, if you have any doubt, or feel seriously unwell, we would still prefer that you contact the Oncology Helpline first.
For all other queries and support, please contact the Cancer Support Line – 01484 343614 or 01422 222709.