Flu Treatment for Cancer Patients and Survivors

Antiviral Drugs for Seasonal Flu

This video explains why antiviral drugs are an important tool against flu especially for people at higher risk of severe illness from the flu.

Make a plan in advance with your doctor about what to do if you get sick. Flu-like symptoms also can be a sign of a very serious infection that is not the flu. The plan includes when you should call your doctor and how to get a prescription for antiviral medication quickly if needed.

What to Do If You Get Sick

If you have flu symptoms

  • Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
  • Keep away from others as much as possible to avoid making them sick.

It’s important for people with cancer to call their doctor immediately if they get a fever. If you get a fever during your chemotherapy treatment, it’s a medical emergency.

A woman picks up her prescription at a pharmacy

Antiviral drugs can make your illness milder, shorten the time you are sick, and prevent serious flu complications.

Antiviral Drugs

CDC recommends antiviral drugs to treat flu illness, if your doctor prescribes them. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.

It’s very important that antiviral drugs be used promptly to treat flu in people who are very sick with flu (for example, people who are in the hospital) and people who are sick with flu and have a greater chance of getting serious flu-related complications, including cancer patients.

Call your doctor immediately and ask if you should receive antiviral drugs if you have been within six feet of someone known or thought to have the flu and—

  • You have received cancer treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy within the last month, or
  • You have a blood or lymphatic form of cancer.
Page last reviewed: November 5, 2019