Dr Latoya Gooding, Oncology Specialist attached to the Georgetown Public Hospital Oncology Department, says that individuals who are diagnosed with cancer and are on treatment, are very vulnerable of becoming infected and developing the most severe form of the Corona Virus Disease which can result in Death.
She reminded that in Guyana, Cancer is the third most common cause of death with the most common types being breast and cervical in females and prostate in males.
The age groups most affected are women between the ages of 30-45years for cervical cancer, for breast, women above age 65 years with the peak at 75 years and for prostate, men above the age of 50.
Dr Gooding, in explaining how cancer patients are most vulnerable, said that cancer weakens the immune system by attacking the white blood cells which is the body’s first line of defense against harmful organisms such as bacteria, fungus and viruses, making it easy to develop diseases especially COVID-19.
She notes that the side effects of chemotheraphy and radiotheraphy can also weaken the immune system because while it is killing the cancerous cells it also affects some of your red and white blood cells.
So what can you do to protect yourself? Dr Gooding said that persons must ensure that they:
Stay at home and come out only when it is absolutely necessary;
If you have to come out, ensure that you wear a face mask and also avoid congregating;
Wash you hands as often as you can and also ensure that you clean the surfaces in your home with an alcohol-based solution or bleach. When out in public avoid touching your face and eyes unless your hands are washed or sanitized;
Use your vitamins and all other medication provided by your health care worker;
This is not a time for entertaining, so do not invite persons over to your home; and
Exercise and eat a balanced diet