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5 Tips to Help Cancer Patients Stay Flu Free

This time of year brings many concerns about the flu and other infectious diseases, especially for cancer patients. Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center’s team of experts can answer any questions or provide helpful advice when it comes to staying as healthy as possible during treatment. Here are five tips for avoiding the flu and other infectious diseases while being treated for cancer:

Get the flu shot

If it’s approved by your oncologist, get the flu shot. Prevention is always the best measure rather than trying to treat the illness.

Hand washing is key

Frequently washing your hands is the key to avoid transmitting any infectious disease. Proper hand washing includes wetting your hands, lathering and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. A helpful hint is to hum the ‘Happy Birthday’ song twice. Make sure you rinse and dry well.

Avoid close contact with those who are sick

Try to avoid crowded areas and close contact with anyone who is sick. If it’s unavoidable, try to use face masks and gloves to avoid too much exposure.

Take extra precautions if receiving chemo

Patients who are being treated with chemotherapy may need to take extra precautions. These drugs have the potential to decrease white blood cell count, which makes patients more susceptible to getting sick. If you are receiving chemotherapy, ask your physician and oncologist what extra precautions you should take.

Communicate with your doctors

Make sure to monitor your temperature, and report any other unusual symptoms like a fever, runny nose, sore throat or coughing to your oncology team as soon as possible. The sooner your team is notified, the faster the appropriate treatment can be started.