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Flu and Cancer patients: What do you all need to know today?

Flu with cancer

When it comes to communicable infections such as the flu, cancer patients are among the most vulnerable. As a result, cancer sufferers must take precautions. Cancer may raise your risk of flu complications. 

If you have cancer or have had certain types of cancer in the past (such as lymphoma or leukemia), you are more likely to develop flu complications.

Let’s go further to check what do you all need to know about flu and cancer patients.

1. What is the flu, exactly?

The flu is an infectious respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and, sometimes, the lungs. It can cause mild to severe disease and, in extreme cases, death. The easiest approach to avoid flu is to get a flu vaccine every year.

2. What are the common symptoms of flu?

  • Fever or a feverish feeling/chills
  • Coughing,
  • Sore throat,
  • Runny or stuffy nose,
  • Muscle or body aches, and
  • Headaches
  • Exhaustion 
  • Some people may experience vomiting and diarrhea, 

which is more prevalent in children than in adults.

3. What should cancer patients do if they suspect they are infected with the flu? and when should they consult a doctor?

The most serious concern is that cancer patients are more likely to suffer serious problems if they get the flu. So, if you have cancer and start experiencing symptoms like a fever, runny nose, sore throat, or coughing, contact a doctor very soon, especially if you have a damaged immune system

There is a good flu therapy, but it must be delivered quickly, within 48 to 72 hours of the onset of symptoms. If you suspect you have the flu, you should get tested for other viruses as well.

4. Is it necessary for cancer patients to be vaccinated against the flu?

Absolutely. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older gets vaccinated against the flu. This message is especially essential for cancer patients since, because of their weakened immune system, they are more likely to have severe problems if they get the flu.

5. What type of flu vaccine is the most effective for cancer patients?

Flu shots are more effective than FluMist, a nasal vaccine licensed for healthy persons aged 2 to 49. 

FluMist contains a live, albeit weakened, flu virus, whereas flu shots contain a dead virus that cannot get you sick. (A low-grade fever may occur after receiving a flu vaccine, but this is an indication that your body is producing antibodies against the disease, not a symptom of the flu itself.) 

The CDC advises that those over the age of 65 obtain the Fluzone High-Dose shot, which stimulates the aging immune system to create more antibodies against the flu. 

The CDC has not yet advised that younger people with compromised immune systems, such as cancer patients, receive the high-dose vaccine as well.

6. What about cancer survivors who have been cancer-free for a long period?

People who have had leukemia or lymphoma, which are cancers of the immune system, are most vulnerable to flu complications.

 Survivors who were treated with specific chemotherapy medications that could change their immune system, in the long run, are another group at increased risk of flu complications.

7. But, if your immune system is weakened, would the flu vaccine still be effective?

Having a flu vaccination is preferable to not getting one, although it may not function as well as it would in a healthy individual. 

If you acquire the flu after getting immunized, chances are you won’t be as sick as someone who didn’t get vaccinated.

8. Is it true that having cancer increases your chances of getting the flu?

Some scientists believe cancer patients are more prone to catching the flu, but this has yet to be proven. It is apparent, however, that once they become ill, they are at a higher risk of complications.

9. Will a flu vaccination affect cancer treatment?

Although flu shots have not been demonstrated to affect the efficiency of cancer therapy, this misunderstanding may help explain why many patients refuse to be immunized.

10. Is it safe for cancer patients to receive the vaccine while undergoing treatment?

Yes. Every cancer patient should get the flu vaccine, but if you’re on active chemotherapy or have a very weak immune system (for example, shortly after a stem cell transplant), your body may not respond as well as it should or the vaccine may not function at all.

That is why it is critical to take it on a case-by-case basis and you must consult with your doctor. It’s not that getting the vaccine is ever unsafe; it just might not protect you as much as we’d want.

11. What should cancer patients or survivors do if they suspect they have come into contact with someone infected with the flu?

Contact your doctor. If you’ve just undergone chemotherapy or radiation therapy, or if you have leukemia or lymphoma, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral drug to keep you from getting sick.

12. What should cancer patients do if they get flu-like symptoms?

If you have any concerns about your symptoms, such as a fever, you should see a doctor. It’s more likely that your cancer therapy, rather than the flu, is to blame. 

However, if you do have the flu, the sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you can begin taking antiviral medication to reduce your risk of complications.

13. Is it necessary to receive flu vaccines for caregivers and family members as well?

While everyone 6 months of age and older should be inoculated against the flu, it is especially important for those who work with cancer patients. The flu vaccine can help caregivers and household members stay well and avoid infecting others.

14. Cancer patients need the Pneumococcal vaccine, too?

Pneumococcal disease refers to any infection caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae, also known as pneumococcus. 

Ear and sinus infections, as well as pneumonia and bloodstream infections, can all be caused by pneumococcal infections. Vaccines are available to help prevent pneumococcal illness.

The flu raises a person’s chance of pneumococcal illness. Pneumococcal pneumonia is a potentially fatal flu-related illness. People who have cancer or other conditions that weaken the immune system should discuss pneumococcal vaccinations with their doctor.

15. Cancer patients may take Antiviral Drugs?

It is critical to take antiviral medications as soon as possible to treat flu in people who are very unwell with flu (for example, those in the hospital) and people who are sick with flu and have a higher risk of significant flu-related complications, such as cancer patients.

If you have been within six feet of someone who has the flu or is suspected of having it, call your doctor right away and ask if you should be given antiviral medication.

You have recently received cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, or you have blood or lymphatic cancer.

16. What else can patients do to protect themselves besides getting the flu vaccine?

Wear gloves and a mask, and wash your hands periodically during the day. Avoid congested areas and keep a safe distance from sick people.

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