By Ahsan Ahsan
The Mass Medical Mission (MMM) has advised cancer patients to be extremely careful and adhere strictly to the appropriate precautions against contraction of Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease. The Mission’s Executive Secretary, Dr Abia Nzelu, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday 27th May 2020 in Lagos.
Nzelu said the advice became pertinent considering the fact that these categories of people were at greater risk of contracting the virus more than others. According to her, most cancer treatments like chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation can weaken the immune system, and thereby exposing cancer patients to higher risks of contracting infectious diseases. She noted that cancer patients were twice likely to become infected than the general population and significantly more likely to die from COVID-19 once infected.
“Individuals with weakened immune systems such as cancer patients or those on immunosuppressive medications might be at higher risk for infection and complications associated with the virus that causes COVID-19 illness……this is why it is very necessary that cancer patients should go the extra mile to observe all precautionary measures to protect themselves from contracting infectious diseases, particularly the deadly Coronavirus disease.
“Because once contracted, the cancer patient has lower chances of survival than other patients due to their weakened immune system,” she said.
Nzelu, therefore, emphasized the need for special treatment and care for them and advised cancer patients to go the extra mile to observe the precautionary measures and ensure their safety, irrespective of whether others were obeying or violating the guidelines/precautions.
Nzelu also advised cancer patients not to take advantage of the gradual easing of lockdown to relax or neglect their health condition. She urged them to always be conscious of their health and never do things others were doing.
According to her, the use of tele-medicine, which allow patients in different locations to access medical expertise quickly without having to travel should be strongly encouraged and embraced by cancer patients.
Nzelu said that cancer patients were not supposed to frequently visit hospitals, particularly during this period, but could do so when it became unavoidably necessary.