Mesothelioma and Coronavirus
By Helen Childs. 21st April 2020
The coronavirus is a flu-like virus which can affect your lungs and airways. For some people, the virus can have serious complications. People with cancer, including Mesothelioma are among those at higher risk of complications as the treatment of cancer can weaken the immune systems.
The immune system protects the body against illness and infection caused by viruses like Coronavirus.
Some people with cancer have a weak immune system which reduces their ability to fight these infections.
Chemotherapy can stop the bone marrow from making enough white blood cells - an essential part of the immune system that help the body to fight infection and disease.
Coronavirus Precautions For Asbestos Cancer Patients
Mesothelioma and asbestos cancer patients should do whatever they can to keep safe from the Coronavirus (COVID-19), especially if the patient is having:
- Radical Radiotherapy
- Immunotherapy or other antibody treatments
- Other targeted cancer treatments affecting the immune system, such as Protein Kinase Inhibitors or PARP Inhibitors
Steps you can take to stay away from Coronavirus
Social Distancing: Everyone in the UK must practice social distancing to help stop the spread of Coronavirus.
Shielding: The government has issued shielding guidance for people who are at very high risk of severe illness from Coronavirus because of underlying health conditions.
Self Isolation: If you live in a household with a possible coronavirus infection, you need to self-isolate.
Do not travel by air or public transport: Car trips should be OK, but prioritize cleanliness. If you have cancer treatment scheduled outside of your local area, try to have it moved to a local facility.
Consider delaying doctor visits: If not on active treatment for an asbestos disease, then don’t risk going to a place where infected people may be present.
Do not touch your face, eyes or mouth: Coronavirus can enter your body even if an infected person doesn’t cough or sneeze on you. The virus can live on surfaces, which you may touch inadvertently.
Wash your hands often and effectively: Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time. You should do this before eating, after touching surfaces in public and after using the bathroom.
Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces: They are easily infected, and the virus can transfer from the object or surface to your hands.
Respond to symptoms immediately: Consult with your doctor if you show any coronavirus symptoms. Get tested as soon as you can.
Protect against other viruses: Coronavirus isn’t the only disease that can affect mesothelioma patients. As a precaution, consider getting vaccinated for the flu.
Similarities Between Mesothelioma and Coronavirus
Both affect the lungs but mesothelioma and the COVID-19 coronavirus have other similarities.
Coronavirus causes flu-like symptoms, such as shortness of breath, a sore throat, coughing, fever, fatigue and trouble breathing. These symptoms also apply to mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma in particular often leads to shortness of breath. Coronavirus and mesothelioma are also alike in whom they can affect. Any person can develop either disease.
Coronavirus and Mesothelioma each have the worst effect on the elderly. Mesothelioma develops more often in older people because it can take decades to fully form. Older patients with mesothelioma usually have shorter survival times as their bodies aren't strong enough to withstand the cancer or the treatment of the cancer. While coronavirus forms much quicker than mesothelioma does, the elderly often are not strong enough to fend off the virus as easily as younger patients.
Are you worried you may have cancer?
People are understandably anxious about the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on their ability to access treatment and care.
If you think you may have symptoms of asbestos cancer, you may be worried about whether you will be able to see a doctor for tests and whether it is safe to do so. Please do contact your doctor straight away. If you do have asbestos cancer or Mesothelioma, this will help you to get a diagnosis as soon as possible.
The NHS is still very much open for victims of Cancer and hospital specialists are doing their best to ensure that diagnosis, treatment and care continues as much as possible. To minimise the risk of infection from Coronavirus, the first appointment with a specialist may be a phone call. They will discuss your symptoms and will arrange for you to have follow-up after a specific period of time. It is important to tell your doctor or specialists at the hospital if the symptoms you have get worse or if you develop new symptoms.
Please be aware that Mesothelioma and Asbestos Cancer are rare forms of cancer that arise from asbestos exposure typically more than 20 years ago. We can offer legal advice on claiming compensation for these diseases, but for medical advice, please contact your doctor or the NHS.
Below is a list of numbers and websites that may be useful:
NHS Coronavirus helpline: Telephone 111
The Macmillan Support Line: 0808 808 00 00
Cancer Research UK Nurses: 0808 800 4040, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday
Advice on Claiming Compensation for Mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases: See Below
Helen is our lead solicitor and a partner at Royds Withy King Solicitors. Helen is recognised as a Leading Lawyer by the Legal 500, where she is described as an exceptional partner with a huge capacity for work and an unerring willingness to fight for her clients and an excellent knowledge of asbestos litigation.. Read more >