The latest guidance about coronavirus and cancer

Updated 21st January 2022

With coronavirus restrictions lifting, it is understandable that this might be a worrying and uncertain time for people living with cancer. We have information about the support that's available, as well as advice to help you stay safe and cope with uncertainty. Read more about coronavirus restrictions.


Coronavirus is a viral infection that affects the lungs. Anyone who has a weakened immune system is more at risk of being seriously ill if they get coronavirus (COVID-19).  Some people with cancer may be at a higher risk of getting coronavirus (COVID-19). It is important to follow the advice from the NHS and your healthcare team. 

We understand many people are anxious about the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on their health and on cancer care. It is important to follow the advice from the NHS and your healthcare team. 

It is important that you follow the latest government advice. Visit government websites for coronavirus guidance in:

How can I protect myself from coronavirus?

No matter where you live in the UK, here are some suggestions from Macmillan’s cancer specialists that can help you make decisions about keeping 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. 
  • Follow local guidelines for what you can and cannot do.
  • Continue to take covid 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.
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who have not been vaccinated.
  • If you live with children or anyone else who has not been vaccinated, you can ask them to continue to take extra care.
  • You and your household can carry out regular self-testing for covid with lateral flow tests. 
  • If anyone has symptoms of covid, they should self-isolate and book a PCR test straight away. You can read more about arranging a test in:
 

Is it safe for me to get the vaccine?

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

Will my cancer treatment be affected by coronavirus?

Many people with cancer have been anxious about the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on their treatment and care. They may also have been worried that having treatment could put them more at risk of becoming very unwell with coronavirus.

The advice for people with cancer is please continue with your treatment and care plan as agreed with your healthcare team. Your healthcare team will talk with you about your treatment and appointments.

We have more information about coronavirus and cancer treatment.

I am worried I have coronavirus. What should I do?

The symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are:

  • a new, continuous cough and/or
  • a high temperature
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

Do I need to self-isolate?

You should self-isolate (stay at home all the time) if: 

  • you have symptoms even if the symptoms are mild
  • you have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.

How long you need to isolate will depend of where you are in the UK. Find out more about the self-isolation rules in:

Testing for coronavirus

You can order tests to do at home. Or you can get a free PCR test if you have symptoms of coronavirus. You should arrange this as soon as possible.

You may be tested if you are due to have surgery or a medical procedure. Your hospital team will discuss this with you.  

You can read more about arranging a test in:

Treatment for coronavirus

New treatments for Covid-19 have been developed to help people who are at most risk. This includes some people with cancer whose immune system may be low (immunosuppressed).

The treatments are aimed to stop people becoming seriously unwell with Covid-19 and to avoid the need for people to be admitted to hospital. They are designed to work in the early stages of covid. They need to be taken as soon as possible after a positive test.

These treatments are now being made available in the UK. Find out more about coronavirus treatments in:

I am worried I have cancer. What should I do?

If you have any signs or symptoms of cancer, you may be worried about seeing a GP or a specialist and getting the tests or treatment you need. Please contact your GP straight away. If you do have cancer, this will help you to get a diagnosis as soon as possible. 

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

If you have finished cancer treatment or have had cancer in the past, you may be worried about your risk of coronavirus. Coronavirus is a viral infection that affects the lungs. Anyone who has a weakened immune system is more at risk of being seriously ill if they get coronavirus (COVID-19). Talk to your GP or hospital team if you are worried about your risk of being seriously ill if you get coronavirus.

We have more information about coronavirus after cancer treatment

I am in a vulnerable group. Do I still need to shield?

Government advice is that people should follow the guidance for their area. Visit government websites for guidance on what you should and should not do in:

Resources from other organisations

Coronavirus resources in accessible formats

We have listed some organisations and websites that have accessible coronavirus 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.

Coronavirus resources for communities

We have listed some websites that provide information on how coronavirus has impacted certain communities.

What support is available?

Macmillan Cancer Support are doing the best we can to support people. You can:

If something is worrying you and you need to talk, we're here to listen. From questions about coronavirus, to cancer treatment, to financial advice, we're here for you.

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