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It’s understandable if you are feeling worried about COVID-19 and cancer. Making a plan can help you to minimise your risks associated with COVID-19, and get the treatment you need at the right time. Remember, if you are going through cancer during COVID-19, you are not alone. When you call the Cancer Council support line, you will talk to a cancer nurse and get the support you need.
Antivirals and other medicines
People with cancer are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19. Antivirals and other medicines can help reduce your risks, even if you have already had COVID-19 before.
They can also improve your symptoms if you have COVID-19, or catch it again. Some medicines are taken before catching COVID-19, or catching it again. Others are taken after you have had a positive COVID-19 test. Many antiviral medicines need to start within the first five days of having symptoms.
Talk to your doctor about your options, as treatments need to suit your individual situation.
Preparing for COVID-19
Keep your vaccinations up to date
Vaccinations provide the best protection against getting very sick with COVID-19. It is important for all people with cancer to keep up to date with COVID-19 and flu vaccinations.
Prepare for a COVID-19 positive case in your home with these steps
- Have all your COVID-19 and flu vaccinations, even if you have caught COVID-19 before
- Wash your hands, wear a face mask and practice social distancing
- Keep supplies at home of
- hand sanitiser, gloves, face masks
- RATs (Rapid Antigen Tests)
- your medicines
- frozen meals and food
- Keep a list of important phone numbers on the fridge, like your GP and treatment team
- Talk to your doctor about antivirals and other medicines, even if you have had COVID-19 before.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms
Get tested and tell your treatment team
- If you’re showing signs of COVID-19, such as sore throat, headache, cough or fever, follow the advice of your treatment team and contact your doctor
- Do a COVID-19 test. You can do a RAT (Rapid Antigen Test) or find a testing site to get a PCR Test
- If you have symptoms but your RAT is negative, get a PCR test
- Contact the at-home test service Call-to-Test on 1800 675 398 if you can’t leave home
- Do not wait for symptoms to get worse.
If you get COVID-19
Act fast if you get COVID-19, or get it again
- Tell your GP and treatment team straight away
- Ask for antivirals and other medicines (these usually have to be taken in the first five days of symptoms)
- Ask if you need to change your treatment schedule
- Only take COVID-19 treatments you have discussed with your doctor
- Focus on your health and wellbeing, get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and take pain medications in consultation with your treatment team
- Tell your family or friends so they can help you
- Seek available support services if needed to help with essential supplies and at-home care
- The Victorian Government will check if you need a special care pathway
- Call the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398 and ask if you can receive any payments to help you.
When to call for help
- If your symptoms get worse or you are worried, call your doctor or Nurse-on-call on 1300 6060 24, or visit the Virtual Emergency Department
- If you have trouble with breathing, chest pain or passing out, get help and call 000 immediately.
Your COVID-19 Action Plan fact sheet
Planning for COVID-19 when you have cancer. Also available in 13 community languages.Download now