Pancreatic cancer patient washes hands to avoid exposure to coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Editor’s note, March 16, 2020: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is changing daily. Please watch the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website for new information and instructions. Many communities have closed schools and canceled large gatherings and sporting events. People are being urged to practice “social distancing” – avoiding contact within six feet of nonfamily members. Please follow all guidelines instituted within your community.

Read below for information pertaining to patients with pancreatic cancer and their caregivers, and how PanCAN’s events have been impacted.

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness caused by a new strain of coronavirus discovered late last year. Cases have been diagnosed in countries around the world, including the United States.

Symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild to severe and can include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or have concerns that you were exposed to coronavirus, please contact your healthcare team right away.

People with certain chronic diseases, like pancreatic cancer, may be at an increased risk of developing COVID-19 due to a weakened immune system. Certain cancer treatments, like chemotherapy, may further weaken a patient’s immune system.

Pancreatic cancer patients may also be at an increased risk of complications associated with COVID-19, which could affect a patient’s ability to receive cancer treatments.

It’s important to remember it’s also currently flu season, so the same precautions should be taken to avoid patients’ exposure to the flu, as well.

Ways to Stay Healthy

Pancreatic cancer patients and those who are in close contact with them, like their caregivers, should follow all precautions outlined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Wash your hands often – ideally with soap and water, but alcohol-based hand sanitizers (at least 60% alcohol) can be used if soap and water aren’t available
    • Please also avoid touching your face, particularly your nose or mouth. If you do touch your face, wash your hands right away
  • Stay away from people who are sick
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve
    • Dispose of any tissues and wash your hands after sneezing or coughing
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched by many people

Additional restrictions may be appropriate if you are a pancreatic cancer patient or are in close contact with someone with the disease. Please speak with your healthcare team for additional precautions to take.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s (PanCAN) Patient Central one-on-one call center is here to help. Patient Central can provide information and resources for patients concerned about being exposed to COVID-19.

Travel Restrictions and Guidelines

If you are a pancreatic cancer patient or caregiver, please consult your healthcare team before booking or taking any trips at this time. The CDC provides information about travel, what to do if you’ve just returned from a trip and up-to-date guidelines about countries or regions considered at highest risk.

PanCAN’s Patient Central can also provide general information about traveling following a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

PanCAN Events

Updated July 7, 2020

All in-person PanCAN PurpleStride run/walk events through the end of the year will be virtual events. We will continue to monitor updates and recommendations daily from both the CDC and local Public Health officials in communities where our future events are scheduled to take place. We will assess any new developments as they arise and provide updates as needed.

Volunteers have been advised to conduct all affiliate meetings virtually by phone or video conference, and other local events may be canceled or postponed until a later date.

Please visit purplestride.org for up-to-date information on PurpleStride events near you. You will also receive email communications prior to your local event with updated details and instructions.

While in-person PurpleStride events will not happen through the end of 2020, participants are encouraged to sign up as a “virtual participant.” Pancreatic cancer continues to affect thousands of patients and families every day, and we need your support today more than ever. Our mission to improve outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients does not slow down or stop.

Additional Information

Many major healthcare institutions and cancer centers are enforcing travel restrictions for their staff, and large biomedical conferences have been canceled. These precautions are intended to keep patients healthy and safe. Please contact your healthcare team if you have questions about steps they’re taking to protect patients.

Some institutions and cancer centers are also putting in place rules about visitors for hospitalized patients or those receiving outpatient care, like chemotherapy treatments. Hospitals are also encouraging patients and healthcare professionals to cancel elective surgeries or unnecessary checkup appointments. Contact your institution to learn if any new rules are in effect.

In our mission to improve pancreatic cancer patient outcomes and keep the community updated on relevant topics, PanCAN’s leadership team will work closely with volunteers, medical experts and consult CDC guidelines to ensure the health and safety of all our constituents as well as staff.

Contact a Patient Central Associate
Contact Patient Central with any questions about coronavirus disease (COVID-19) or for information and resources about the diagnosis, treatment and management of pancreatic cancer patients.