COVID-19 Resources for Patients with Cancer
Getting the vaccine
NewYork-Presbyterian (NYP) is offering COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses to eligible patients per the New York State guidelines. Visit the Connect Patient Portal to schedule your appointment.
Research on COVID-19 and the vaccines
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) have a research portal on COVID-19 available to the public. If you want to review the current research on the virus, the disease caused by the virus, or the vaccine's effectiveness, below are some trustworthy resources. You may notice a difference between SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 in reading scientific and medical research. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus, and COVID-19 is the disease caused by the virus.
SARS-CoV-2 = severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2
COVID-19 = coronavirus disease of 2019
- Scientific Investigations Address COVID-19 and Cancer
- SARS-CoV-2 Resources (NIH)
- LitCovid — Latest Publications and Scientific Literature (NLM)
- COVID-19 Clinical Trials (NLM)
- COVID Data Tracker (CDC)
Common myths about COVID-19 and the vaccines
There is much misinformation going around about COVID-19 and the vaccines. The World Health Organization (WHO) says we are facing an 'infomedic' on top of a global pandemic caused by the spread of the virus. An 'infodemic' happens when there is a large amount of information available — some accurate and some not — that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources of information and reliable guidance when they need it.
The WHO, the CDC, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offer resources to help stop the spread of false information and debunk some common myths.
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Advice for the Public: Mythbusters (WHO)
- Coronavirus Rumor Control (FEMA)
- Frequently Asked Questions (CDC)
Frequently asked questions
Here are some frequently asked questions from patients that our physicians answer. You can also visit the Weill Cornell Medicine Coronavirus (COVID-19) or Columbia COVID-19 Resource Guide webpages for more FAQs.
If you are sick with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, you should take these steps to protect others in your home and community and to take care of yourself:
First, stay at home and isolate yourself from others as much as possible to prevent spreading the infection to others. Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better.
Inform your primary doctor or cancer doctor once you start feeling sick or are diagnosed with COVID-19. Call ahead for guidance before visiting any doctor's office or clinic.
Monitor your symptoms daily and look for warning signs that may indicate you should seek emergency care. Some warning signs include (but are not limited to): difficulty breathing, new confusion or inability to stay awake, the oxygen level of 92% or lower, unable to keep fluids down or stay hydrated. See below for more information.
Want more info? Visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html.
Most people with COVID-19 developing mild to moderate symptoms will recover on their own with supportive care. This is a rapidly evolving field, so you should contact your primary care doctor as soon as you have symptoms for further guidance.
The FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), which allows for emergency use of combination anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies to treat outpatients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of clinical progression. If you have risk factors for severe disease, you may be eligible for this treatment, so contact your primary care doctor as soon as you develop symptoms to see if this treatment may be appropriate for you.
Less commonly, COVID-19 may be severe and have serious complications requiring hospitalization. Treatments that are being used in hospitalized patients include:
Dexamethasone, a glucocorticosteroid, has shown benefit in hospitalized patients who need oxygen. The greatest benefit is in patients who require mechanical ventilation. It is currently recommended as a treatment option for COVID-19 patients who are in the hospital.
Tocilizumab, an anti-interleukin-6 receptor monoclonal antibody therapy, was found to improve survival among hospitalized patients exhibiting rapid respiratory decompensation due to COVID-19 when it was used with dexamethasone.
Remdesivir, an antiviral medication to treat COVID-19, is currently the only drug that the FDA approves for the treatment of COVID-19. It is recommended for hospitalized patients who require supplemental oxygen but not those who require mechanical ventilation.
For information on COVID-19 treatment, visit https://www.covid19treatmentguidelines.nih.gov/whats-new/.
For information on specific clinical trials underway for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 infection, visit https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?cond=COVID-19.
Yes. Everyone should get a COVID-19 vaccine, even if you have had a COVID-19 infection in the past. Even if immunity develops after infection, it is not known how long that protection will last. Reinfection can occur after COVID-19 infection, especially in immunosuppressed and immunocompromised people. If you received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma for COVID-19, you should wait 90 days to get vaccinated.
After vaccination, you should continue to practice COVID-19 safety measures, including wearing masks around others, hand hygiene, and physical distancing in public places outside your home. The vaccine's effectiveness in cancer patients will likely be lower than shown in the vaccine clinical trials. In addition, although vaccination substantially reduces the risk of symptoms and illness, it may not eliminate the risk of asymptomatic transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
The American Cancer Society has many resources about COVID-19 and precautions for patients with cancer or someone concerned about loved ones with cancer to take at www.cancer.org. There is also a 24/7 line (National Cancer Information Center) staffed by trained cancer information specialists who can provide information, resources, and support at 1-800-227-2345.
- Public Health Information – COVID-19 (CDC)
- Combat COVID (HHS)
- Coronavirus: What People with Cancer Should Know (NCI)
- Preventing Infections in Cancer Patients (CDC)
- Emergency Resources for the Cancer Community (NCI)
- Coronavirus and COVID-19: What People with Cancer Need to Know (ASCO)
- Patient education: Coronavirus disease 2019 (UpToDate)