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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Prostate Cancer

What You Need to Know about Prostate Cancer and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As news keeps developing about the spread and severity of COVID-19, our first priority is to help keep prostate cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, and your loved ones safe. CEO Jamie Bearse’s blogged about what ZERO is doing to support the community during this alarming time, and it all comes down to this: you are not alone.

To help you and your loved ones, ZERO has put together resources to connect you with community support, answer frequently asked questions specific to prostate cancer and COVID-19, and to help you find direct assistance if you need it.

Where to Go for Help

ZERO Connect
Join our online Facebook group to get support from a community of patients and caregivers who have been impacted by prostate cancer.

ZERO360 Comprehensive Patient Support
Get live assistance from our team of experienced case managers, ready to help you and your family through your prostate cancer journey, by visiting our website or calling (844) 244-1309.

ZERO MENtor
If you are a patient who is looking for one-on-one peer support, visit zerocancer.org/mentor to get matched with an individual MENtor who can provide personal guidance and counsel.

Social Media
Keep up-to-date with the latest prostate cancer news (including developments with COVID-19) by following ZERO on Facebook and Twitter.

FAQ: What Do Prostate Cancer Patients need to know about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

Am I at Risk?

I’m currently in treatment, am I at risk? What if I’m in active surveillance (“watchful waiting”)?

It depends on how advanced your cancer is, which prostate cancer treatments you are using, and other medical conditions you may have (including diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease). Refer to CDC’s resource on people who are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 for more information, and talk to your doctors about any concerns you have about your current treatment.

My doctor has already told me that treatment will impact my immune system. Am I at risk?

Yes. Older adults and people who have underlying conditions have a higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. You need to take extra precautions to minimize your risk from COVID-19, so be sure to review the CDC’s resources on how high-risk individuals can get ready for COVID-19.

My prostate cancer is currently undetectable. Am I at risk?

Age and underlying health conditions put you at a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, and these are factors that often coincide with prostate cancer patients and survivors. But even if you’re not at an elevated risk, the CDC recommends that everyone take practical steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

I recently traveled, or I think I might have come across someone sick with COVID-19 in my local community. Am I at risk?

Call your doctor (before you go to the hospital) if you’ve been in close contact someone who has COVID-19 or if you’ve recently traveled to an area with widespread or active exposure to the disease. The CDC keeps an up-to-date map of verified cases, but one of the challenges is that the disease can take several days or even weeks before a patient shows any COVID-19 symptoms. If you’ve traveled recently, take a look at CDC’s travelers information website.

What Should I Do?

Should I be especially worried?

Don’t panic, but do take the situation seriously. Experts are learning more about COVID-19 by the minute, but one thing is clear: it’s spreading quickly, it’s most dangerous for people who are older and/or have weakened immune systems, and there’s no cure on the immediate horizon. Keep an eye on the CDC’s constantly updated summary of the situation.

I’m a caregiver or family member of a prostate cancer patient. What should I do to help?

Especially if your loved ones are an a high-risk population — weakened immune system, advanced age — help them avoid potential exposure (“social distancing”) by doing the shopping and other away-from-home tasks on their behalf. Remind them to follow the CDC best practices, particularly the ones about washing hands, practicing “social distancing,” and disinfecting surfaces. Technology can be a big help to avoid feeling isolated, and many large gatherings are shifting to online platforms like YouTube, videoconferencing, and social media. See if your loved ones need help getting set up and connected to these services, and encourage them to join groups like ZERO Connect to stay in touch with a larger community. The CDC also has an extensive section on ways to cope with the emotional stress caused by the pandemic.

I haven’t been tested, but I feel like I’m coming down with something, and I wonder if it’s COVID-19. What should I do?

Compare your symptoms to the CDC’s list of COVID-19 symptoms, and call your doctor before coming in for medical attention. Experts are continuing to learn about the disease, so additional symptoms may be discovered, but these will always be up-to-date on the CDC website.

I’m not sick, but should I go ahead and self-quarantine anyway? The news says I should do one thing and posts on social media are saying another. What should I do?

Even as people have the best of intentions for keeping others informed, COVID-19 is a very new disease and the situation keeps evolving. Always rely on official sources of information: the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and your doctor.

What should I do to prepare in case there’s an outbreak in my community? How can I prepare my home and family when it seems like toilet paper and other essentials have suddenly disappeared from the store!

First, don’t panic. It’s completely natural to fear the unknown, and unfortunately there’s much we’re still learning about the disease, but there are concrete steps we can all take to face these challenges without creating new ones in the process. Second, do take the necessary precautions to get your home ready, clean and disinfect, and stock up on needed supplies without buying a year’s supply. The American College of Emergency Physicians guide is a great summary of how to prepare for the disease: practice good hygiene by washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, clean surfaces that get touched regularly (most household cleaners can kill the virus), limit your exposure to crowded spaces, get rest, eat well, and make sure you have two weeks of supplies just in case you start to feel sick. For a more in-depth guide, check out the CDC’s sections on getting your home ready, protecting your family, and frequently asked questions about community outbreaks.

I’ve been tested and confirmed to have COVID-19. What should I do?

Always follow the CDC’s updated instructions for those who have COVID-19.

About the Disease

What is this disease actually called? I’ve heard the terms “COVID-19,” “Coronavirus,” “nCov,” “novel coronavirus 2019”, and “SARS-CoV-2.”

COVID-19 is the official name. The other terms refer to different aspects of the pandemic, check out the CDC’s COVID-19 situation summary for those words’ usage and definitions.

How does COVID-19 spread?

This is a new disease and experts are still learning exactly how it behaves, but the CDC’s “how it spreads” website reports that it’s much like the common cold or flu: person-to-person through close contact (within about six feet), through the airborne droplets of coughs/sneezes, and from touching contaminated surfaces.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Again, the situation is changing rapidly as experts get more information about the disease, so look to the CDC’s symptoms page for the latest. Based on what is known from early cases abroad (as well as similar coronaviruses like MERS), COVID-19 behaves similarly to the flu, causing fever, cough, body aches, chills, and shortness of breath.
If you develop difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips or face, seek medical attention immediately, as these are the signs of severe disease that can be fatal.

The American College of Emergency Physicians guide is a great quick summary of ways to prepare for the disease

ZERO’s Perspective on the Pandemic

COVID-19 is a serious, potentially fatal illness, and cancer patients who have weakened immune systems are at particular risk of complications. Here’s a special message from ZERO CEO Jamie Bearse and VP of Patient Programs and Advocacy, Patrice Brown.