Nebraska Cancer Center Urges Caution for Patients at Higher Risk for COVID-19

March 18, 2020, 7 p.m. ·


People of all ages are being advised to stay home as much as possible to prevent the spread of coronavirus. However, people who need regular medical care, including those with cancer, sometimes have to leave the house to receive that care.

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Dr. Alison Friefeld, a professor of medicine specializing in cancer care at the Fred and Pamela Buffet Cancer Center, said cancer patients are at higher risk from COVID-19. That risk is even higher for those who have had a bone marrow transplant or who have blood malignancies. Those who are currently being treated for cancer and those over 70 are also at a greater risk. She encourages social distancing, especially as there is currently no vaccine for coronavirus. Friefeld says the cancer center is committed to continuing care.

“Sometimes this is occurring in a tiered basis,” Friefeld said. “That is, where people whose risk is low for advancement of their cancer may have their clinic appointments delayed and rescheduled if we think that their appointment face to face is not absolutely critically necessary, and those patients may also be interviewed by telemedicine techniques.”

For those patients who need things like chemotherapy, surgery, and blood transfusions, doctors are trying to keep everything on schedule. Everyone who visits the center is screened at the door for symptoms of COVID-19, as well as for certain travel history. Those who are at greater risk of transmitting the virus are taken to a separate room and given a facemask while they are screened further.

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