Cancer, the Flu and You

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Cancer, the Flu and You

During flu season, no one is safe from loitering germs. But cancer patients and survivors in particular should take extra precautions, as they are at increased risk of serious flu-based health complications.

"I believe everyone who can, should get vaccinated,” says Annemarie Flood, R.N., B.S.N., C.I.C., Infection Control Program coordinator at City of Hope. "But check with your physician to see if it’s appropriate for you.”

If your doctor advises against a vaccination, encourage those around you – especially family members, friends and caregivers – to get a flu shot. Be sure they receive the shot and not the nasal spray. The nasal spray contains live viruses that can be shed by the recipients, putting those around them with weakened immune systems at risk.

Prevention is just as critical for those currently undergoing chemotherapy, Flood says. To avoid getting sick, the standard rules apply: Wash your hands; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; get sufficient sleep; and eat a balanced diet.

"Clean hands and flu shots save lives,” says Flood.

Should you experience flu symptoms such as fever, body aches, cough or chills, call your doctor right away because there may be treatment options available that can reduce the severity of the illness.

Colleen Ringer

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