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Coronavirus (COVID-19): What People With Breast Cancer Need to Know

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The respiratory illness commonly referred to as “coronavirus” and officially called COVID-19 has changed life as we know it.

For people with serious health conditions, such as breast cancer, and their loved ones, the uncertainty of this situation, the need for physical distancing, job losses and financial concerns, and possible changes in cancer treatments has been especially distressing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 is low for most people. However, it’s very important to know that people who are currently diagnosed with cancer, including breast cancer, have a higher risk of severe illness if they get COVID-19. Having a history of cancer may increase your risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Some breast cancer treatments — including chemotherapy, targeted therapies, and immunotherapy — can weaken the immune system and possibly cause lung problems. People who have weakened immune systems or lung problems have a much higher risk of serious complications if they become infected with this virus. For most people, the immune system recovers within a couple of months after completing these treatments. But your immune system’s recovery time can vary and depends on several factors. If you’ve received these treatments in the past, it’s not clear if you’re at higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19.

People with breast cancer that has metastasized (spread) to the lungs also can have lung problems that may get worse if they develop COVID-19.

The virus has now spread all over the world and across the United States. But the number of cases varies in different regions, so your immediate risk of coming into contact with the virus depends on where you live. The risk of infection will continue to change over time as cases increase and decrease in different areas.

To protect yourself and help reduce the spread of the virus, it’s important to listen to health experts who recommend staying at home, limiting contact with others, wearing a mask when you are around people you don’t live with, following other precautions, and getting vaccinated when and if you can.

If you or a loved one are receiving treatment for breast cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic, here’s what you need to know:

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause respiratory illness in humans and animals. The coronavirus you’ve heard about in the news is called SARS-CoV-2, and the illness it causes is called coronavirus disease 2019, which is why it’s abbreviated as COVID-19.

The first case was diagnosed in China in December 2019, and it has since spread to almost all countries throughout the world. Some coronaviruses spread from animals to people, and that appears to be the case with SARS-CoV-2, which is thought to have originated in bats and first infected people at a live animal market.

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Can people with breast cancer get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, the three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States are considered safe and effective for people receiving treatment for cancer and with a history of cancer in most cases. The CDC, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), and other expert medical groups have recommended that people receiving treatment for cancer should be vaccinated. Still, everyone’s situation is different, and you should talk with your doctor about getting vaccinated.

On Aug. 23, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is now marketed with the brand name Comirnaty for the prevention of COVID-19 in people age 16 and older.

The Pfizer vaccine continues to be available under emergency use authorization for young adults ages 12 to 15. On Sept. 22, 2021, the FDA extended emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine as a third booster dose to be given at least 6 months after the second shot for:

  • people age 65 and older
  • people ages 18 to 64 who are immunocompromised and are at high risk of severe COVID-19
  • people ages 18 to 64 who have a higher risk of coming into contact with the coronavirus because of their job or where they live

Two additional COVID-19 vaccines remain authorized by the FDA for emergency use:

  • the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine
  • the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine (also called the Janssen vaccine)

On Oct. 20, 2021, the FDA extended emergency use authorization for the Moderna vaccine as a half-dose third booster to be given at least 6 months after the second shot for:

  • people age 65 and older
  • people ages 18 to 64 who are immunocompromised and are at high risk of severe COVID-19
  • people ages 18 to 64 who have a higher risk of coming into contact with the coronavirus because of their job or where they live

Moderna said a third shot at half the dose used for the first two shots is less likely to trigger side effects while still producing a strong immune response.

On Oct. 20, 2021, the FDA extended emergency use authorization for the J&J vaccine as a second booster to be given at least 2 months after the single dose vaccine for people age 18 and older.

On Oct. 20, 2021, the FDA also authorized the use of a booster dose using any available COVID-19 vaccine, even if it is different from the one you received for initial vaccination.

Other COVID-19 vaccines are being used in other countries, and more are being developed and may eventually be approved, as well.

Because the vaccines do not contain live viruses, they can be used in people with weakened immune systems, including people being treated for cancer. The FDA has found that these three vaccines are safe and highly effective for preventing COVID-19, especially serious illness and death from the disease. It is still unclear how long the protection lasts and whether you can give someone else COVID-19 if you are exposed to the virus after being vaccinated. So it’s recommended that mask wearing and physical distancing in public continue for some time.

Experts have recommended that most people diagnosed with cancer or who have a history of cancer should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Still, you should talk to your doctor about whether getting vaccinated is the right decision for your individual situation.

Although allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines are considered rare, people are monitored for about 15 to 30 minutes after receiving each injection.

On Aug. 30, 2021, the CDC recommended that people not get the second shot of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines, if:

  • they have a severe allergic reaction after getting the first shot
  • they have an immediate allergic reaction after getting the first shot, even if the allergic reaction was not severe

Also called anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction can cause:

  • a rapid heartbeat
  • difficulty breathing
  • swelling of the throat
  • generalized rash or hives

Call 911 if you are having a severe allergic reaction. If you have an EpiPen, use it.

An immediate allergic reaction typically happens within 4 hours of getting vaccinated. Symptoms may include:

  • hives
  • swelling
  • respiratory distress (or wheezing)

It’s a good idea to ask your doctor to refer you to an allergist or immunologist who can provide advice or additional care. Still, the CDC also recommended that you get the second shot of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines if you get a red, itchy, swollen, or painful rash on the arm where you got your first shot. Known as “COVID arm,” these rashes can show up within a few days to more than a week after the first shot and can be large. If you get a rash after your first shot, let your vaccine provider know so you can determine whether you should get the second shot in the other arm.

A COVID-19 vaccine booster shot may be recommended for all people at some point. But if you have a weakened immune system from chemotherapy or another breast cancer treatment and you were fully vaccinated with any of the three vaccines, the FDA and the CDC have recommended you talk to your doctor about getting a booster shot.

On Aug. 27, 2021, the CDC updated its guidance to say that people can now get their COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, on any schedule, including:

  • on the same day they get other vaccines, including the flu shot, as long as they get each injection in a different injection site (for example, one injection in each arm)
  • regardless of when they get other vaccines, including the flu shot

Learn more about COVID-19 Vaccine Facts for People With Breast Cancer.

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How does COVID-19 spread between people?

This virus mostly spreads through close contact with other people (within 6 feet) through droplets of respiratory fluids produced when a person coughs or sneezes. These respiratory droplets can travel through the air and either be inhaled or otherwise get into the noses, mouths, or eyes of people nearby.

The virus is very contagious — about 3 times as contagious as the flu, CDC director Robert Redfield, M.D., said in an interview. People become contagious up to 2 days before developing symptoms, but it’s important to know that many people who become infected don’t develop noticeable symptoms, and you can still catch the virus from them.

The main way the virus spreads is through close contact with others. As doctors have learned more about the virus, the risk of getting infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your face seems lower than previously thought. Still, it’s smart to continue frequently washing your hands and not touching your face in public.

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What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

According to the CDC, a wide range of symptoms have been reported for COVID-19, ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms may appear from 2 to 14 days after you’re exposed to the virus.

People with these common symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • fever
  • chills
  • cough
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • fatigue
  • aches and pains
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • loss of taste or sense of smell
  • nausea or vomiting
  • runny nose or congestion
  • diarrhea

This list doesn’t include all the symptoms that have been linked to COVID-19. Call your doctor if you have other severe symptoms or if you are concerned about symptoms you’re experiencing.

“Often, [COVID-19] can start out with symptoms similar to a common cold,” Halle Moore, M.D., director of breast oncology at the Cleveland Clinic, told Breastcancer.org. “Patients may experience fatigue, a sore throat, and a cough, but they will usually get a fever, as well. The illness can also progress to shortness of breath and respiratory difficulties.”

Most people who get COVID-19 have mild respiratory symptoms and can recover at home in about 2 weeks. However, symptoms can become severe in certain people.

Severe symptoms that require immediate medical attention include:

  • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • persistent chest pain or pressure
  • confusion or inability to awaken
  • blueish color in the lips or face

If you or a loved one experiences any of these emergency warning signs, call 911 immediately. People who are older than 60 and people who have existing serious health conditions such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), heart disease, obesity, sickle cell disease, a weakened immune system, or diabetes, and people who smoke appear to have a higher risk of developing severe illness and complications from COVID-19. This includes people who are receiving cancer treatments that can weaken the immune system or cause lung problems and people who have cancer that has spread (metastasized) to the lungs.

Possible complications of COVID-19 include:

  • pneumonia
  • organ failure
  • death

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What should I do if I develop symptoms?

If you experience fever, cough, or shortness of breath, you should call your doctor. If you or a loved one experiences severe symptoms that can signal an emergency, such as difficulty breathing, persistent chest pain or pressure, confusion or inability to awaken, or blueish color in the lips or face, immediate medical attention is needed and you should call 911. Make sure to tell the 911 operator that you suspect COVID-19 so the responders can take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.

People who experience mild symptoms can usually stay home while the illness runs its course and recover in about 2 weeks. But if you are receiving treatment for breast cancer, you should definitely let your doctor know.

“Anybody who’s on any treatment that can suppress the immune system should always call their doctor if they notice a fever or if they have severe cold or flu-like symptoms,” says Dr. Moore. “For someone who’s receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer, a fever is a medical emergency anyway, so that’s something that they need to contact their medical team for.”

On Aug. 12, 2021, the FDA updated its COVID-19 recommendations, saying that anyone with a suppressed immune system should talk to their doctor about monoclonal antibody treatment options if they’re exposed to the virus or are diagnosed with the disease.

Monoclonal antibodies are made in a lab and work like the antibodies made naturally by our immune systems. The monoclonal antibodies that have been granted emergency use authorization to treat COVID-19 are:

  • Actemra (chemical name: tocilizumab)
  • sotrovimab
  • REGEN-COV (chemical names: casirivimab and imdevimab, given together)

Actemra and sotrovimab are given as infusions, which means they’re delivered directly into your bloodstream through an IV or a port. REGEN-COV can be given as an infusion or an injection.

If you do develop symptoms and need to go a doctor’s office, an urgent care, or an emergency room, call ahead and tell the office you might have COVID-19 and say when you plan to arrive.

If you do become sick, you can take the following steps to protect others:

  • stay home, unless you need medical care
  • separate yourself from others in your home
  • cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, properly dispose of tissues, and wash your hands
  • monitor your symptoms and temperature
  • wear a face mask when around others; you should also wear a face mask if you are caring for someone who is sick

You should follow these steps until all the points below are true:

  • 10 days have passed since you first noticed symptoms
  • your fever goes away for 1 full day without fever-reducing medicine
  • your symptoms have improved, though loss of taste and smell may last for weeks or months after you recover and don’t need to delay the end of your isolation

Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. If you develop symptoms, ask your doctor if a test is available and recommended for you.

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Who is at risk of getting COVID-19?

The CDC says that most people have a low risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. However, it’s important to understand the difference between your risk of becoming seriously ill if you do become infected versus your risk of being infected in the first place.

While we know that people with a current diagnosis of cancer are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, research suggests that people diagnosed with cancer may be at higher risk for COVID-19 infection if they are exposed to the virus. This makes it extra important to limit your contact with other people and follow other safety practices like wearing a mask in public if you have been diagnosed with cancer.

The virus has now spread to most countries in the world and in communities across all 50 U.S. states, and your individual risk of being exposed to the virus — whether or not it makes you seriously ill — depends on where you live and what precautions you're taking. The risk of being exposed to the virus will continue to change as the number of COVID-19 cases go up and down in different areas of the country and as more people are vaccinated.

People who currently have a higher risk of becoming infected include:

  • those who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19
  • those who live in communities where the virus is spreading
  • healthcare workers who may be exposed to sick people
  • people who require frequent hospital visits for medical care
  • those who have had close contact with people who have been infected
  • people who have recently traveled to places where the virus is known to have spread
  • people who are unable to limit their contact with others

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How can I protect myself and others?

The best way to avoid becoming sick from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated if you can and avoid being exposed to the virus.

In December 2020, the FDA authorized the first COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use: the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine (also called the Janssen vaccine) was authorized in February 2021. On April 13, 2021, the FDA and the CDC recommended that use of the J&J vaccine be paused while they studied a potential safety issue after six women developed a rare health condition involving blood clots. On April 23, after reviewing the data, the CDC lifted the pause and again recommended the use of the J&J vaccine for all adults.

Other COVID-19 vaccines are being used in other countries, and more are being developed and may eventually be authorized, as well. It is still unclear how long the protection from a COVID-19 vaccine lasts. It is also still unclear whether you can give someone else COVID-19 if you are exposed to the virus after being vaccinated. So the CDC recommends that mask wearing continue in certain indoor situations.

Learn more about COVID-19 Vaccine Facts for People with Breast Cancer, including what you can do if you are fully vaccinated.

In addition to getting vaccinated when and if you can, it’s important to take other safety precautions to lower your risk of getting sick, especially if you have a serious health problem such as breast cancer. If you are immunocompromised, the CDC recommends asking your doctor if you should continue to wear a mask in public and avoiding close contact with people you don’t live with, even if you are fully vaccinated.

If you are not vaccinated, you should follow recommended social distancing practices when possible, including:

  • staying at home
  • avoiding public spaces
  • avoiding public transportation and unnecessary travel
  • avoiding social gatherings
  • working from home
  • staying at least 6 feet away from people when out in public
  • avoiding physical contact such as handshakes, hugs, and kisses in social situations
  • avoiding contact with people who are or may be sick

If you're unvaccinated, you should also:

  • Wash your hands frequently using soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being out in public, coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water aren’t available.
  • Don’t touch your face when your hands aren’t clean, and make it a habit to not touch your face when you’re outside your home.
  • Wear a face mask when in public places (but make sure you do this safely; learn more below).
  • Practice healthy habits: eat well, exercise, avoid or limit alcohol, don’t smoke or vape, and get enough sleep.
  • Switch to glasses if you wear contact lenses to avoid touching your eyes more than necessary, or follow proper contact lens hygiene.

If you are receiving treatment for breast cancer, are immunocompromised, or are living with breast cancer that has metastasized (spread) to the lungs, the following extra precautions may help you protect yourself:

  • be extra vigilant about hand hygiene and not touching your face
  • avoid close contact with friends and family and take precautions if you depend on them for medical care
  • make a plan with your doctor to monitor for symptoms
  • make a plan with your caregiver or other loved ones in case you or they get sick
  • make a plan with your employer to work from home if you’re not already doing so
  • stock up on medications
  • ask a friend or family member to shop for groceries or pick up medications for you

If you need to visit a healthcare facility for your medical care, all staff members and patients should be wearing masks and practicing social distancing. It’s also OK to ask healthcare providers and caregivers to wash their hands before touching you. And it’s a good idea to talk to your oncologist about any other protective measures that may be recommended for your unique situation.

Because this is a continually changing situation, it’s wise to pay attention to the CDC’s updates to continue assessing the risks in your area.

“Since this is such a changing landscape, it’s important for people to visit CDC.gov or their state health department website for updated information,” says Dr. Moore. “Some hospitals and state health departments are also setting up hotlines to help keep people informed or answer questions.”

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Should I wear a face mask?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the CDC has issued evolving recommendations on wearing a face mask. The recommendations are based on the number of people vaccinated, as well as how contagious the current COVID-19 strains are.

On July 27, 2021, the CDC recommended that fully vaccinated people should wear masks in indoor public settings if they live in areas where COVID-19 is spreading at “substantial” or “high” levels. This CDC tool shows you whether COVID-19 is spreading at low, moderate, substantial, or high levels where you live.

All unvaccinated people should wear a mask in public indoor and outdoor settings.

These extra precautions are being recommended because a newer strain of COVID-19, called the Delta variant, is more contagious than previous strains and is spreading throughout the United States. Getting sick from COVID-19 — even the Delta variant — seems to be rare in people who are fully vaccinated, but it can happen. Still, “breakthrough infections” in people who are fully vaccinated almost never cause severe illness or hospitalization.

The CDC says that fully vaccinated people have a lower risk of transmitting COVID-19 to people who are unvaccinated. But it’s unclear if fully vaccinated people can spread the Delta variant more easily than other strains of COVID-19.

The latest CDC recommendations also say that everyone should wear masks in schools. The CDC also says that all fully vaccinated people might want to wear a mask in public indoor settings for extra protection, especially if they have a weakened immune system or live with someone who has a weakened immune system or a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you’re immunocompromised, the CDC recommends that you talk to your doctor about taking extra precautions, even if you are fully vaccinated. If you know someone who is immunocompromised or has a medical condition, such as cancer, that puts them at higher risk for severe complications from COVID-19, it’s a good idea to wear a mask when you visit them indoors, even you both are fully vaccinated.

If you have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19, the CDC also recommends that you wear a mask in places where masks are required (such as businesses, hospitals, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and when traveling on planes, buses, trains, and other types of public transportation).

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Is it safe for breast cancer screening or treatment to be delayed or changed?

At the beginning of the pandemic, many hospitals and other healthcare facilities delayed or canceled elective procedures, meaning screenings, surgeries, and other treatments that were not considered urgent, emergencies, or otherwise indicated for life-threatening conditions. This was distressing if it happened to you or a loved one — if you were scheduled to have a cancer screening, surgery, or other treatment, you probably felt that it was urgent. But these tough decisions were made to help protect people from the risk of getting COVID-19 in a healthcare facility and to make sure healthcare providers had the resources they needed to treat people with severe cases of COVID-19.

Cancer treatment cancellations and delays were often being made on a case-by-case basis, and the policies are different and rapidly changing among healthcare facilities. If this has happened to you, know that you are not alone — many people diagnosed with cancer had their treatments changed or delayed.

Most radiology and imaging centers are now offering routine mammograms again. So, if your annual mammogram was delayed, you should reschedule as soon as possible. Routine screenings are different from tests performed on people with cancer symptoms — if you have symptoms, you should tell your doctor and follow their recommendations for next steps.

Doctors are looking at each person’s unique situation and diagnosis when deciding how to best move forward with breast cancer treatment during the pandemic. For example, they are looking at whether a person has a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from a COVID-19 infection due to a weakened immune system from treatments such as chemotherapy or targeted therapy, or because of their age or other health problems.

Healthcare facilities have adopted stricter safety practices to reduce the risk of exposing people to COVID-19. At the same time, many cancer treatment plans have been changed so people don’t have to spend as much time at these facilities. Medical appointments are being spread out to avoid close contact between people, more appointments are being done over the phone or online, and hospital stays after surgery have been shortened. In some cases, fewer in-person visits are required to complete chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Still, all of the usual treatment options may not always be available to people receiving treatment for breast cancer during the pandemic. In the spring of 2020, for example, people may have had to wait weeks or months for certain breast cancer surgeries unless they were diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer. Also, breast imaging was only available for urgent cases, access to new treatments through clinical trials was limited, and fertility-preserving procedures were not available in some places.

Talk to your doctor about the best way to proceed to make sure you can get the best care possible in this challenging situation. You may be able to see healthcare providers virtually for certain appointments through telemedicine (by phone or internet video).

Read more about how the pandemic affected breast cancer treatment in our Special Report: COVID-19's Impact on Breast Cancer Care.

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How can I manage anxiety and loneliness while isolating?

Limiting your contact with others is critically important for protecting yourself and lowering your risk of getting COVID-19. But long-term social distancing is not easy and can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. If you’re experiencing these feelings while isolating at home, you are not alone — so many of us are going through it with you.

Fortunately, there are plenty of things we can do to manage these feelings and stay connected with our loved ones. Here are some tips from licensed clinical social worker Kelly Grosklags on how to manage the loneliness or anxiety you might be feeling during this time of social distancing because of COVID-19:

  • Use social media and electronic tools such as FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, messaging apps, and texts to stay in touch with loved ones.
  • Start a virtual book club with your friends.
  • If you don’t have internet access or have limited access, phone calls are also a great way to keep in touch.
  • Consider writing letters to people with dementia who are in care facilities and may not be able to work a phone.
  • Take up a new hobby: knitting, jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles. Learning something new can take your mind off the COVID-19 situation for a little while.
  • Many museums, aquariums, and zoos are giving people online access to their resources. Soothe yourself with some beautiful artwork or some waddling penguins.
  • Above all, remember to breathe and live in the now. Living in the past can make you depressed. Living in the future can make you fearful. Live in the now and practice gratitude for the good things in your life.

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Listen to the latest COVID-19 podcast episodes

Hear from experts about issues related to COVID-19 that are important to people with breast cancer:

American Rescue Plan: Benefits for the Breast Cancer Community, with Joanna Fawzy Morales, Esq.

Update on COVID-19 Vaccines, with Halle Moore, M.D.

Understanding the COVID-19 Vaccines, with Hana El Sahly, M.D.

Weslinne's Story: Diagnosed With Breast Cancer During COVID-19, with Weslinne Cespedes

Flu Vaccines and Holiday Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic, with Elizabeth Robilotti, M.D.

COVID-19 Testing Confusion, with Megan Kruse, M.D.

COVID-19 and Breast Cancer Care: Follow-Up Questions, with Brian Wojciechowski, M.D.

Quarantine Fatigue: How to Stay Vigilant About Your Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic, with Jackie Gollan, M.D.

COVID-19 and Metastatic Breast Cancer, with Shirley Mertz, chair, Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance

Update: Breast Surgery and Reconstruction During COVID-19, with Julie Sprunt, M.D., FACS, and Elisabeth Potter, M.D.

COVID-19 Insurance and Financial Issues for People With Breast Cancer, with Joanna Morales, Esq, CEO, Triage Cancer

Staying Active During Quarantine: Tips for People With Breast Cancer, with Sami Mansfield, cancer exercise specialist

Breast Surgery and Reconstruction During COVID-19, with Julie Sprunt, M.D., FACS, and Elisabeth Potter, M.D.

COVID-19 and Breast Cancer Treatment, with Brian Wojciechowski, M.D.

Managing Loneliness and Anxiety During This Time of Social Distancing, with Kelly Grosklags, LICSW, BCD, FAAGC

COVID-19: What We Know Now, with Angela Rasmussen, Ph.D.

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We’re all in this together

While the developing news about COVID-19 can be distressing, Breastcancer.org Founder and Chief Medical Officer Marisa Weiss, M.D., would like to remind you that we’re all in this together and that there are common sense precautions we can all take to protect ourselves and our families.

“The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us that it’s a small world out there,” she says. “We are all interconnected in good and sometimes dangerous ways. For now, it’s wise to lay low and stay home whenever possible, especially if you’re at high risk of having complications from getting this virus.”

Please practice social distancing as recommended by the CDC, WHO, and your local and state governments:

  • stay home
  • avoid close contact with others
  • wash your hands thoroughly and often
  • wear a mask
  • get vaccinated when and if you can

If we all do our part, we can protect ourselves, our families, and our communities from this pandemic.

We want to know how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting your life and your treatment. Join the conversation in the Breastcancer.org Community Discussion Boards, and tell us how you’re managing this situation throughout your treatment or survivorship.

Written by:

Adam Leitenberger, editorial director

Jamie DePolo, senior editor

Vivian Lee, assistant editor

This content was developed with contributions from the following experts:

Halle Moore, M.D., director of breast oncology, Cleveland Clinic

Marisa Weiss, M.D., chief medical officer

Brian S. Wojciechowski, M.D., medical adviser


Helpful Links

World Health Organization COVID-19 pages: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 pages: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

American Society of Clinical Oncology COVID-19 Patient Care Information: https://www.asco.org/asco-coronavirus-information/care-individuals-cancer-during-covid-19

MIT COVID-19 Relative Risk Factors Comparison Map: https://www.covidalliance.com/interactive-data-tools

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resources Center: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

Harvard Health Publishing Coronavirus Resource Center: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/coronavirus-resource-center

Science Magazine Coronavirus Research, Commentary and News: https://www.sciencemag.org/coronavirus-research-commentary-and-news

New England Journal of Medicine COVID-19 page: https://www.nejm.org/coronavirus

National Comprehensive Cancer Center Network COVID-19 Resources: https://www.nccn.org/covid-19/

American Society for Radiation Oncology Recommendations and Information: https://www.astro.org/Daily-Practice/COVID-19-Recommendations-and-Information

Annals of Internal Medicine. “A War on Two Fronts: Cancer Care in the Time of COVID-19”: https://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/2764022/war-two-fronts-cancer-care-time-covid-19

American Society of Breast Surgeons Recommendations on Treatment During COVID-19 Pandemic: https://www.breastsurgeons.org/docs/news/The_COVID-19_Pandemic_Breast_Cancer_Consortium_Recommendations_EXECUTIVE_SUMMARY.pdf?01

American Society of Plastic Surgeons Statement on Breast Reconstruction During COVID-19 Pandemic: https://www.plasticsurgery.org/documents/medical-professionals/COVID19-Breast-Reconstruction-Statement.pdf


This special content made possible in part through generous support from AstraZeneca; Daiichi Sankyo; Eisai; Genentech; Lilly Oncology; Pfizer; Seattle Genetics; an independent educational grant from Merck & Co., Inc.; and individuals like you.


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