How to Protect Yourself From the Flu During Cancer Treatment. Flu Facts for People With Cancer 

Cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy, are designed to target rapidly dividing cells, which unfortunately also include some healthy immune cells. This immunosuppression can leave cancer patients more vulnerable to infections, making the flu a significant concern. So here are some key strategies for prevention: 

1.       Vaccination: Vaccination remains the most effective preventive measure. Cancer patients, regardless of the stage of their treatment, should receive an annual flu shot. It’s crucial to ensure the vaccine aligns with the specific treatment plan and the patient’s overall health. 

2.       Hygiene Practices: Reinforce the significance of good hygiene practices. Emphasize regular handwashing with soap and water, especially before meals and after being in public spaces. If soap is unavailable, advocate for the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. 

3.       Avoid Crowded Places: Minimize exposure to crowded areas during peak flu seasons. If possible, consider scheduling appointments and outings during off-peak hours to reduce the risk of coming into contact with infectious individuals. 

4.       Maintain a Clean Environment: Regularly disinfect frequently-touched surfaces in home, such as doorknobs, light switches, and countertops. This practice helps prevent the spread of viruses within your living space. 

5.       Monitor Symptoms Vigilantly: Be attuned to flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, and fatigue.  

6.       Stay Informed and Educated: Knowledge is a powerful tool in the fight against the flu. Stay informed about flu trends in your area. 

7.       Encourage Vaccination Among Close Contacts: Advocate for flu vaccination not only for yourself but also for those in close contact with you. This protective circle extends to family, friends, and caregivers, creating a collective shield against the flu. 

The convergence of cancer treatment and flu season necessitates a proactive and collaborative approach. Together, navigate the flu season with knowledge, compassion, and a steadfast commitment to our patients’

 

Dr. Milind Shetty, Consultant Radiation Oncology, HCG NMR Cancer Centre, Hubballi 

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