Cancer treatment and coronavirus (covid)

You might be worried if coronavirus (covid) will affect your cancer treatment. Here are the answers to some common treatment questions.

Cancer treatment and covid

Many people with cancer have been concerned about the effect of covid on their treatment and care. They may also worry that having cancer 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.

If you have questions about your treatment, ask your healthcare team.

The NHS works hard to deliver cancer services. Macmillan aims to support the NHS and also deliver direct support to people with cancer. Our support includes:


Covid vaccines and cancer treatment

Public health and cancer specialists have agreed that people who have cancer should receive covid vaccines. These 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 coronavirus vaccine and cancer.

Preparing for cancer treatment

It is important that you look after your health and well-being before you start cancer treatment. This is sometimes called prehabilitation. This means making sure you are as healthy as possible before you start your treatment.  

The immune system helps to protect us from infection and disease. It also protects us from viruses like covid. Some things you can do to look after your immune system are:

  • keep active
  • eat well
  • get enough to drink
  • get enough sleep
  • look after your emotional and mental well being.

We have some advice about looking after your immune system. It includes information about staying active and eating well. We also have information about preparing for treatment


When you are having treatment

Cancer services have teams available to provide diagnosis, treatment and care for people who need it. Your healthcare team will talk with you about your treatment and appointments. If you have any concerns or questions about your treatment, please speak to your team.

If you are coming to a hospital or clinic, you may be asked if you have covid symptoms and may be tested for covid. 

If you feel unwell or have any signs of infection including covid symptoms while having cancer treatment, immediately phone:

  • the chemotherapy care line
  • the Acute Oncology Service at the hospital where you have your treatment
  • the number you were given by your hospital team in the event of an urgent query.

The important thing is to get urgent medical advice.

You may have some of your appointments by phone or by video consultation. We have some tips to help you prepare for these kinds of appointments.

Finishing cancer treatment

Some cancer treatments affect the immune system. This includes chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Radiotherapy may sometimes affect your immune system. Most people’s immune system will recover well after they have finished their treatment.  Talk to your hospital team if you are worried about this.

If you have had cancer in the past

If you have had cancer in the past, you may be worried about your risk of covid. Covid is a viral infection. Anyone who has a weakened immune system is more at risk of being seriously ill if they get  covid. Your risk will depend on:

  • if you have had covid vaccines 
  • your general health
  • the type of cancer you have had
  • the type of treatment you have had
  • when you finished treatment.

Most people with cancer will recover well from treatment. Their immune system will usually recover in a few months. Most people will not be more at risk of being seriously unwell if they get covid. Being vaccinated can reduce this risk further. We have information about looking after yourself and staying well.

Talk to your hospital team if you are worried about your risk of being seriously ill if you get covid.

Getting help and support with covid

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.

From questions about covid, to cancer treatment, to financial advice, we're here for you. Find out more about different support options and how you can speak to someone

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