Author – Dr Amit Verma, Molecular Oncologist and Cancer Geneticist.
Affiliation – Dr AV Cancer Institute of Personalized Cancer Therapy and Research, Gurgaon.
Lung cancer patients are more likely to contract COVID-19 as they already have diminished lung capacity due to the damage caused by cancer. Consequently, COVID-19 can put additional strain on their lungs, and the chances of experiencing respiratory issues are also severe in such cases. In addition, a lot of cancer patients have a higher risk of developing infections in the first place.
This may be the result of cancer or the treatment that the patient undergoes. For instance, mucus in their lungs aids in the capture of bacteria. Their body then coughs these bacteria out. A lung tumour may interfere with mucus outflow and increase infection risk. Some cancer treatments can also impair immune function, increasing the patients’ susceptibility to infections. However, in general, COVID-19-related effects that lung cancer patients may experience are comparable to those that affect the general population.
These may consist of pneumonia, a secondary bacterial or viral infection, blood clots that could be dangerous, apart from acute respiratory distress syndrome that may harm to further organs, such as the kidneys, liver, and heart. Additionally, COVID-19 may result in long-term difficulties. Damage to the lungs and other organs can also take time to heal, especially for those with cancer.
What is COVID-19 treatment for persons with lung cancer?
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a number of medications to assist treat COVID-19 in individuals at serious risk of getting extremely unwell, in addition to supportive care and symptom management.Antivirals and monoclonal antibodies are two general groups for these therapies. Antiviral medications stop the virus’s growth inside your body. Remdesivirand molnupiravir are two examples. Your immune system is assisted in battling the infection by monoclonal antibodies. Covid 19 implications also has effects on lung cancer treatment like the long term side effect such as Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD). Patients suffering from ILD cannot be administered with immunotherapy which is a choice of treatment for many eligible lung cancer patients.
How to minimise the risk of catching COVID-19 infection?
The best approach to safeguard someone against COVID-19 in case of lung cancer is to get them immunised. Most significantly, should that person become ill, that will reduce his/her risk of developing a serious illness or passing away.Additional defence strategies include putting on a mask when in public, retaining physical distance while in public or avoid densely populated/poorly ventilated places, maintaining good hygiene and frequently cleaning hands adequately.