Cancer and COVID-19
Information and support for people in NSW affected by cancer during the COVID-19 outbreak, including information for health professionals and researchers.
If you or a loved one lives with cancer, you may have increased concerns and questions on how the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak affects you.
People with compromised immune systems or pre-existing medical conditions, including cancer, may have an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and an increased risk of more severe illness.
We have gathered up-to-date, evidence-based resources for people affected by cancer to support you during this time. This includes information for people living with cancer, health professionals and researchers.
See information about:
- COVID-19 vaccines and cancer
- COVID-19 and cancer treatment
- COVID-19 for people affected by cancer
- COVID-19 and cancer for health professionals and researchers
- BreastScreen NSW services impacted by COVID-19
- General COVID-19 information
COVID–19 vaccines and cancer
There are many benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccination for people affected by cancer. This includes anyone diagnosed with cancer, caring for someone with cancer, or living with someone who has cancer.
Benefits of vaccination for people affected by cancer
Here are some of the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination for people with cancer:
- Reduces your risk of catching COVID-19
- Reduces your risk of severe illness if you catch COVID-19
- Reduces your risk of getting COVID-19 infection through close contacts
- Vaccination reduces the exposure risk when you come into contact with medical staff or other patients where you are receiving treatment.
- For people who are newly diagnosed with cancer and have not yet begun treatment, vaccination before treatment increases the effectiveness of the vaccine.
We also strongly urge families and loved ones to get vaccinated. If you or a loved one have a cancer diagnosis, speak with your doctor about options for COVID–19 vaccination.
Have you or a loved one been newly diagnosed with cancer?
It is strongly recommended that people who have been newly diagnosed with cancer receive their COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.
It is also recommended that close contacts of people who have been newly diagnosed with cancer receive their COVID-19 vaccination prior to the person receiving treatment.
People who have undergone cancer treatment are immunocompromised which increases risk of exposure to COVID-19 and adverse outcomes. Vaccination before treatment also increases the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss receiving the COVID-19 vaccination prior to starting cancer treatment.
More information on COVID-19 vaccines for people affected by cancer
Cancer Australia provide up-to-date information on COVID-19 vaccines for people affected by cancer.
They cover areas like safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines, delivery of the vaccines, recommendation for cancer patients, side effects, and more.
- COVID-19 vaccine and cancer
- SerOzNET Study – an important clinical study to better understand the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines in people with cancer.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about COVID-19 vaccines for people affected by cancer
- FAQs in English
- FAQs translated in 10 non-English languages. including:
- Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
COVID-19 and cancer treatment
If you are currently having cancer treatment, here are some practical ways to reduce your risk of exposure to COVID-19:
Get in touch with your cancer care team to see if you can have any consultations by phone or video call.
Talk to your doctor or cancer care team about the times during your treatment when you may be at the highest risk of infection and plan your activities accordingly.
Some pharmacies will renew prescriptions by phone and provide home delivery. Talk to your local pharmacist. If you do take prescription or over-the-counter medication, make sure you have enough at home. A one-month supply is ideal. View your options for getting medicine during COVID-19 restrictions.
Get in touch with your cancer care team to get specific advice around your individual risk.
Everyone should practise good hygiene and social distancing to protect against infection, particularly people with cancer and their family, friends and carers. See Cancer Australia for more information.
COVID-19 for people affected by cancer
The Australian Government's national cancer body, Cancer Australia, provides COVID-19 advice and information for people in Australia affected by cancer:
- COVID-19 and cancer
- COVID-19 information for people affected by cancer
- Cancer and COVID-19 - what it means for our mob
Cancer Council Australia also have information about COVID-19 and cancer, including factsheets in several languages:
COVID-19 and cancer for health professionals and researchers
- COVID-19 resources - eviQ
- Guidance for health professionals on cancer management and COVID-19 - Cancer Australia
- Research articles about cancer and COVID-19 - Cancer Australia
- Cancer care in the time of COVID-19: A conceptual framework - Cancer Australia
- The impact of COVID-19 on cancer services - Cancer Australia
- COVID-19 Recovery: Implications for cancer care - Cancer Australia
- SerOzNET Study - Cancer Australia
BreastScreen NSW services impacted by COVID-19
In response to the increasing risk posed by the COVID-19 Delta strain, BreastScreen NSW will temporarily suspend all routine breast screening across the state by Thursday 19th August 2021. This temporary closure is to allow staff to be redeployed to assist in the management COVID-19.
For more information please visit https://www.breastscreen.nsw.gov.au/importantinfo.
General COVID-19 information
What is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause respiratory infections. These can vary from the common cold to more serious diseases.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by a form of coronavirus.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
COVID-19 affects people in different ways. COVID-19 symptoms can range from mild illness to pneumonia. You can also be infected with COVID-19 and experience no symptoms—this is called being 'asymptomatic'.
If you have COVID-19, you may experience symptoms such as:
- respiratory symptoms
- sore throat
- shortness of breath.
Other symptoms can include:
- runny nose
- acute blocked nose (congestion)
- muscle or joint pains
- loss of sense of smell
- altered sense of taste
- loss of appetite
It is important you get tested immediately even if you have only the mildest of these symptoms.
Experiencing symptoms, have exposure concerns or tested positive?
Contact your doctor or cancer care team immediately for advice if you:
- have COVID-19 symptoms
- have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
- have tested positive for COVID-19.
Looking after your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak
The impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, physical distancing and isolation can make us feel anxious, stressed and worried. Access information and resources to look after your mental wellbeing during this time.
- Head to Health: COVID-19 Support – Department of Health (Australia)
- Looking after your mental health during COVID-19 restrictions – Department of Health (Australia)
- Your mental wellbeing – NSW Health
- Ways to look after your mental health amid the coronavirus pandemic – Beyond Blue
COVID-19 Health Information Line
Call 1800 020 080 if you are seeking information about COVID-19. The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
More information and resources on COVID-19
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert - Department of Health (Australia)
- Current status of COVID-19 in NSW - NSW Health
- Information and news about COVID-19 vaccines – Department of Health (Australia)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Healthdirect
- Advice for the public about COVID-19 – World Health Organization