The latest guidance about coronavirus and cancer

Updated Monday 13 September

As coronavirus restrictions ease, 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 the easing of 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?

There are things you can do to protect yourself and others:

  • Get a coronavirus vaccine when it is offered to you
  • Wear a mask when you are with other people or outside your house. This must cover your mouth and nose.
  • Avoid places that are very busy
  • Try to stay 2 metres away from other people
  • Clean your hands often 
  • Keep rooms well-ventilated
  • Book a test if you think you have coronavirus.
 

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) for 10 days if: 

  • you have symptoms even if the symptoms are mild
  • someone you live with or have been in contact with has symptoms or had a positive test 
  • you have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. 

You can find more information about self-isolation.

Should I be tested for coronavirus?

You can order a test to do at home. Or you can get a free NHS test if you have symptoms of coronavirus. You should arrange this as soon as possible. A trained person will test you. They will usually swab the back of your throat and your nose. The swab looks like a long cotton bud.

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:

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?

Shielding restrictions have eased in the UK. Government advice is that people should follow the guidance for the COVID alert level in their area. Visit government websites for guidance on what you should and should not do in:

The government has also set out detailed information for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from coronavirus.

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.