Guidance about covid and cancer

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:

Protecting yourself from covid

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:



Is it safe to get the vaccine?

Public health experts and cancer specialists have agreed that people living with cancer should have the vaccine. Covid vaccines can be given to people who are having cancer treatment. Vaccines save lives and reduce the need for hospital stays from covid. We have more information about covid vaccine and cancer.

Will my cancer treatment be affected by covid?

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.

Covid symptoms and what to do.

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
  • diarrhoea
  • 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:

Treatment for covid

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:

I have recovered from cancer. Am I more vulnerable to covid?

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.


Government advice is that people no longer need to shield. Visit government websites for guidance on how to keep yourself safe in:

Supporting someone with cancer

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.


Resources from other organisations

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.

Get expert advice and covid support from Macmillan

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:

Find out more about the Macmillan teams that are here to support you.