Staying Well During COVID-19

A Guide for Cancer Patients and Their Caregivers and Family Members

Updated June 9, 2022

Cancer patients and survivors may have a higher risk of getting COVID-19 and other infections. They, and people who live with and take care of them, should take steps to protect their health.

Cancer Patients and Survivors

COVID-19: Are You at Higher Risk for Severe Illness?

If you are one of the people at increased risk for serious COVID-19 illness, it’s especially important for you to take action to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19. This video explains who is at increased risk and offers tips to help you avoid getting sick.

If you have cancer now or had cancer in the past, you may need to take special steps to protect your health. This is especially important if you are being treated with chemotherapy. Chemotherapy can weaken your immune system and make you more likely to get an infection. For the same reason, the infection may be more serious for you.

Be Sure You Are Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines

Protect Yourself and Others

  • Wear a mask that fits well when around others, and ask them to do the same.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid poorly ventilated spaces and crowds. Bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible.
  • Stay 6 feet away from those in your home who may be sick, and from anyone who doesn’t live with you.
Visiting Friends and Family with Higher Risk for Severe Illness

When you visit a person who has cancer, take these steps to lower the chance of spreading COVID-19.

Be Prepared in Case You Get Sick

Keep over-the-counter medicines on hand to treat fever and other symptoms in case you get sick. Ask your doctor about getting extra prescription medicines in case you need to stay home for a long time.

If You Get Sick

If you get a fever or other symptoms of an infection, take these important steps right away—

  • Call your doctor. Before going to a doctor or hospital, call and tell them your symptoms, especially if you have a fever. Be sure to tell them if you’re getting chemotherapy. For people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 infection, medications are available that can reduce your chances of severe illness and death. Other medications can help reduce symptoms and help you manage your illness.
  • Separate yourself from others. Try to stay in one room and away from other people in your home. Use a separate bathroom if one is available.

Caregivers, Family Members, and Others

If you live with or take care of someone who has cancer, it’s important for you to take steps to keep yourself healthy. If you get COVID-19, you could pass it to the person who has cancer.