COVID-19 and Prostate Cancer

How to stay safe:

Updated: Wear face masks, hats and eye protection, like goggles or swim masks, if you go outside for any length of time.  Wear clothes that are only for outside wearing…have indoor and outdoor clothes. Wash your hair when you return from going outside. Hair is like velcro for airborn viruses. COVID-19 can aerosol, which means it lingers in the air, like perfume.  The virus can also be transmitted by speaking speach, so, don’t have conversations with anyone outside of your home.   There are many YouTube videos on how to make a face mask using cloth, rags and vacuum cleaner bags.  

People over age 70 should stay at home.  Yes, COVID-19 is airborne and may stay on surfaces like walls and benches…there’s a lot that we don’t yet know.  It is that serious.  This too will pass but for now, stay at home.

Coronavirus (a.k.a. COVID-19) can negatively impact the body’s immune system, but there is a lot we don’t know about it yet. According to a study published in the Lancet journal involving 19 men, the virus infects the body’s immune system quite early, knocking down white blood cells, reducing your ability to fight off infections. A respiratory disease could occur for many patients that are struck by COVID-19.

  1. Spend 20 seconds at least washing your hands with soap before you eat and after you blow your nose.
  2. Maintain at least a six-foot distance from other people when you are away from home.
  3. Don’t touch your face with your hands, as the virus may enter your body through your nose, mouth, and eyes.

Here are several other details to keep in mind about COVID-19 for those in the process of recovering from prostate cancer:

  • If you are at an early stage of prostate cancer treatment – for instance, you are getting radiation treatment, being monitored, or booked for a surgical procedure – you won’t be more vulnerable to coronavirus. In its early stages, prostate cancer won’t impact the immune system significantly, nor will it inhibit your body’s capacity to fight off infection. In contrast to several types of blood cancer, prostate cancer in its early stages won’t impact your B and T cells’ (which are the cells regulating your body’s immune system) capacity to fight off bacterial and viral infections.
  • If you are taking hormone therapy of some sort, there isn’t any evidence to suggest that your risk of being infected by COVID-19 is heightened. Prostate cancer patients taking certain medications (including Zytiga, Xtandi, and Lupron) are not at a greater risk of developing other types of viral infections, such as the common cold, hepatitis, and seasonal influenza, according to comprehensive research. When it comes to standard viral infections, experts believe that immune cells function normally in men who are taking hormonal therapy to treat prostate cancer. However, COVID-19 isn’t a standard virus, and we are keeping track of updated data to determine if COVID-19 impacts patients undergoing hormonal therapy in other ways. If such news comes about, we’ll share it.
  • Treatment for chemotherapy (such as carboplatin, cabazitaxel, and taxotere) for advanced stages of prostate cancer may raise the risk of higher COVID-19 infection severity. Since chemotherapy for prostate cancer impacts cells that rapidly divide within the body – normal and cancerous cells alike – a bone marrow can create a reduced amount of cells that fight infections, which can put you at a greater risk for any kind of infection. Speak with your physician about ways your specific case can be managed. If your body’s white blood cells are being tracked as part of your chemotherapy treatment, you must speak with your physician before scheduling a visit to a clinic. It is prudent to be sure that the healthcare environment you’re in is optimally ready to minimize the potential spread of the virus to anyone, especially cancer patients in the midst of chemotherapy.
  • With regards to the effect of coronavirus on survivors of prostate cancer, no data has been received from China yet (China is the nation most affected by COVID-19, and as such, their data is considered to be “leading”). Rest assured that when we obtain relevant information, it will be shared with members of our community.
  • Several other medical conditions may heighten one’s risk of developing a severe disease after exposure to coronavirus, no matter what your prostate cancer diagnosis is. Such medical conditions include diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Respiratory conditions (for example, emphysema or asthma), as well as conditions that impact the body’s immune system (for example, a transplant history or inflammatory bowel disease) might heighten your risk, too.

Heres what men with prostate cancer and their caregivers need to know about the Coronavirus Covid-19.

Men who are currently receiving prostate cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, or those who are immunocompromised due to past treatment, are at higher risk to COVID-19. Prednisone is linked with immune suppression and may increase risk.

People who are 60 years old or older and people with underlying health conditions, such as chronic lung disease (COPD), cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, are at higher risk for hospital-based intensive care and death from Covid-19.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR IF YOU ARE IMMUNOSUPPRESSED 

People with hematologic [blood] malignancies and active chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant patients are most at risk. In other words, people with debilitating immune deficits are at high risk. Prostate cancer patients might find themselves in this group, too. The risk of Covid-19 extends during the length of the after-effects of immunosuppressive effects of treatment, can last a long time. You’re probably ok if you are a few years out of treatment, but ask your doctor about that.

Don’t cancel prostate cancer medical appointments unless you’re experiencing coronavirus symptoms. It’s common sense to call your doctor if you have any concerns.

If you have symptoms like a high fever, a deep dry cough, fatigue, and shortness of breath, call your doctor. It is flu and cold season, so it may not be Covid-19.

 If you feel you need help immediately, then go straight to a hospital emergency room. Call ahead and let the ER know you are coming. It’s particularly important to let them know in advance if you are having difficulty breathing.  

What if a family member or friend develops symptoms?  

Friends and family are essential components of your care. Unfortunately, you should keep your distance from anyone – including friends and family – who is showing symptoms or diagnosed with Covid-19. 

Wear gloves, sleep in a different room, don’t share food or drinks, wipe down areas with bleach or disinfecting wipes, and wash your hands often. 

What should I do?

 Avoid public transportation and events. Talk to your hospital or doctor about getting financial help for private transit, like Uber or Lyft. If you have no choice, do your best to stand apart from others on the bus or train. Your medical care is probably going to be more helpful to you than avoiding the risk of people on buses and trains.

Use home delivery and enjoy streaming services. You can order food in and even attend online religious services and access telemedicine services for basic care.

Sleep is essential. Sleep deprivation hurts your immune system. Use common sense like no caffeine before the evening. Walking and exercise (if you are able) are helpful, too. A balanced diet, eating fruits and vegetables, is beneficial, also. Unfortunately, it’s hard to reduce worry and stress during this time of 24-hour Coronavirus news.   

Click here to join new Coronavirus / Covid-19 Online Support Group.  Free and open to anyone curious and or diagnosed, worldwide.