Dr. Robert Donegan Interviewed about COVID-19
The coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing fear for many, especially cancer patients. To answer your questions, Robert Donegan, MD, Chief, Division of Oncology at the Malcolm and Sandra Berman Cancer Institute at GBMC, spoke with WMAR-TV news anchor Kelly Swoope about the steps that cancer patients can take to lower their risk of contracting COVID-19.
If you’re a cancer patient and have flu-like symptoms or symptoms that may be caused by COVID-19, Dr. Donegan said that you shouldn’t rush to the emergency room. Your first step should be to call your treating doctor who will decide what the next step should be.
He explained that symptoms of the disease usually appear within a five-day range of being exposed to the virus, but that can vary from person to person. He also noted that cancer patients need to be aware of the fact that people can be infected with the virus and not have any symptoms. Once a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 no longer has symptoms, they should be tested twice to make sure they’ve cleared the virus and are no longer infectious and able to pass it to others.
Dr. Donegan added that the best strategy for cancer patients and their families is to frequently wash their hands with soap for 20 seconds or with hand sanitizer that contains 60% alcohol and to avoid close contact, even within your family. His most important advice is for people living with cancer is to listen to their bodies for early signs of COVID-19 such as shortness of breath, coughing, fever, extreme fatigue, and aches and pains. All of these symptoms should trigger an immediate phone call to your doctor.
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