Coronavirus (covid) and cancer
If you have cancer, it's understandable you might be worried about coronavirus.
On this page
Guidance about covid and cancer
Protecting yourself from covid
Is it safe to get the vaccine?
Will my cancer treatment be affected by covid?
Covid symptoms and what to do.
Treatment for covid
I have recovered from cancer. Am I more vulnerable to covid?
Supporting someone with cancer
Resources from other organisations
Get expert advice and covid support from Macmillan
How we can help
Coronavirus (covid) restrictions have lifted across the UK, but it is understandable that people living with cancer may still be worried. We have information about the support that's available, as well as advice to help you stay safe.
Covid is a viral infection. Anyone who has a weakened immune system is more at risk of being seriously ill if they get covid. Some people with cancer may be at a higher risk, so it is important to follow the advice from the NHS and your healthcare team. For more information you can visit government websites for coronavirus guidance in:
No matter where you live, here are some suggestions from Macmillan’s cancer specialists that can help keep you safe:
- Have all doses of the covid vaccine, including boosters when they are offered to you.
- Have the flu vaccine when it is offered to you.
- Try to avoid close contact with people who have not been vaccinated.
- Continue to take precautions that feel right for you, for example:
- meet people outside when possible
- wear a mask in public places or when meeting indoors with people you don’t live with
- avoid crowds
- continue with good hand washing/hand sanitising
- keep rooms well ventilated if you have guests at home.
If anyone has symptoms of covid, they should stay at home and avoid contact with people. You can read more about what to do if you have coronavirus in:
Many people with cancer have been anxious about the impact of covid on their treatment and care. They may also worry that having treatment could put them more at risk of becoming very unwell with covid.
The advice for people with cancer is please continue with your treatment and care plan as agreed with your healthcare team. They will talk with you about your treatment and appointments.
We have more information about coronavirus and cancer treatment.
The main symptoms of covid are:
- a new, continuous cough and/or
- a high temperature
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
Some people may also have:
- shortness of breath
- unexplained tiredness, lack of energy
- muscle aches or pains
- not wanting to eat or not feeling hungry
- a headache that's unusual or longer lasting than usual
- a sore throat, stuffy or runny nose
- feeling sick or being sick
Do I need to self-isolate?
The rules about self-isolation have changed. The advice now is stay at home and avoid contact with other people if:
- you have symptoms of a respiratory infection, like covid
- you have a high temperature
- you do not feel well enough to go to work or carry out normal activities.
You should follow government guidance on staying at home if you are unwell. Find out more about this in:
Testing for covid
Most people no longer need to take a covid test. Lateral flow tests (LFTs) are free for some people. This includes if:
- you have a health condition that means you can have new covid treatments
- you are going into hospital for treatment
Your hospital team will discuss this with you. You can read more about getting tests in:
Treatments are available for people who are at most risk from covid. This includes some people with cancer whose immune system may be low (immunosuppressed).
Treatment aims to stop people becoming seriously unwell and to avoid them being admitted to hospital. It works in the early stages of covid and needs to be taken as soon as possible after a positive covid test.
Find out more about covid treatments and how to access them in:
If you have finished cancer treatment or have had cancer in the past, you may be worried about your risk from covid. Anyone who has a weakened immune system is more at risk of being seriously ill if they get it. Talk to your GP or hospital team if you are worried about your immune system.
If you are a carer for someone who has cancer it is important to get your covid vaccines when they are offered. If you are vaccinated this helps reduce the risk of the person you care for becoming very unwell with covid.
If you feel unwell, you may need to make other arrangements for their care. You can have plans in place in case you become unwell. Carers UK have information about making an emergency plan.
If you have symptoms of covid, there are things you can do to keep other people safe:
- try to keep a safe distance from other people
- try to avoid shared spaces if you can – kitchen and toilet
- wear a mask in shared spaces
- keep windows open
- wash your hands regularly
If the person you care for is in hospital, care home or hospice, you should not visit if you have covid.
Covid resources in accessible formats
We have listed some organisations and websites that have accessible covid information in other formats and languages. This includes links to easy read booklets and British Sign Language (BSL) content. These resources are not specifically for people living with cancer but you may find them helpful.
You can also find our cancer-specific information in a range of different formats.
Covid resources for communities
We have listed some websites that provide information on how coronavirus has impacted certain communities.
- Race Equality Foundation has information about risk factors of covid and the impact on black and minority ethnic communities. You can also download the COVID-19 and Black and Minority Ethnic Communities easy read leaflet (PDF).
- Stonewall has information about how coronavirus is affecting LGBT communities and a list of organisations that can support you.
We’re here to help everyone with cancer live life as fully as they can, providing physical, financial and emotional support. So whatever cancer throws your way, we’re right there with you. If you are worried, there is help available and people to talk to. You can:
- access our Cancer Information and Support section on the website to get up to date information about living with cancer and getting support
- visit our support services, delivered over the phone or online
- sign up to our Macmillan Buddies service for someone to talk to
- talk to our No7 Boots Macmillan Beauty Advisors who can give make-up and skincare advice to help with the side effects of cancer treatment.
Find out more about the Macmillan teams that are here to support you.
How we can help
Chat online anonymously to others who understand what you are going through. Our community is available 24/7 and has dedicated forums where you can get advice and ask our experts.