Mitigating the Peculiarities- Coronavirus and Cancer!


The atrocious Coronavirus has provoked swift responses & actions by health care professionals in saving the soft targets, especially those who have co-morbid conditions like diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, etc. Aforementioned diseases in people predict immune-compromised state of their health and the risk of life-threatening infections like the ongoing Coronavirus is significantly high in them.

In the community of cancer patients, it is all the more essential to be proactively alert on the symptoms like coughing, sneezing, soar throat, fever; being developed. In corona hotspots where many localities are being sealed because the corona infected patients having found there, the risk of infection to cancer patients residing in such areas is much more. All of us know that cancer chemotherapy and radiation therapy is myelosuppressive in nature i.e. it suppresses the immunity of patients taking these therapies and it takes reasonable time for them to recover their immunity. Cancer as a disease itself is so catastrophic that the immunity is suppressed even without the cancer treatment, on many occasions.

Magnifying the peculiar issue mentioned above, these patients should be supported with preventive measures so that they can maintain their immunity to an optimum level during this critical phase. Especially, maintaining optimum neutrophil levels which are front-line soldiers of body's immunity is absolutely critical. Sometimes, despite these measures, the infections still arise and call for urgent interventions. These cancer patients are always advised to remain in touch with treating oncologists or visit them to report any such emergencies or eventualities while on treatment, so that timely and appropriate measures can be taken or advised. On many occasions, patients panic to not-so-serious conditions and the only way they can overcome it is by meeting or speaking to their treating doctor. It may appear to be unnecessary otherwise but important to be attended by a doctor in person, knowing the sensitivity of ongoing pandemic conditions and the psychological effect that makes patient panic.

With the essential lockdown like measures against coronavirus spread being taken in the country, can they reach out to their doctor easily? I am sure it may not be possible always and for everyone. "Can we effectively use technology to deal with this crisis?" The answer is 'Yes'!

Our new initiative at MOC, "Doctor On Screen" is meant to deal with such anxiety building situations. The digital consultation with treating doctor can help our patients get in touch with our doctors and receive appropriate advice at the right time, simply at a click of a button. We can easily offer them remedies which can be taken at the place wherever they are or advise to plan a visit to our centers, need be. Many of our patients are residing at distant places who will have no means to reach out to us physically in this challenging time. Such digital consultation will be apt and prove to be essentially useful in present times.

It is our responsibility to keep efficiently dealing with such novel challenges so that our patients don't suffer and I am sure this initiative will help us fulfill our commitment.

Dr. Ashish Joshi

Consultant Medical Oncologist

Mumbai Oncocare Centre

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