Rush's Lung Cancer
- Radio personality Rush Limbaugh, 69, is currently fighting late-stage lung cancer; he recently thanked listeners and family members for their support.
- Limbaugh was diagnosed with the disease in February of this year, and it has spread to other parts of his body.
- During COVID-19, it’s especially important for those battling lung cancer to exercise safety precautions and take care of their health.
Often family members make sacrifices to help someone who is battling cancer and it sounds like Limbaugh’s family is no different. He expressed gratitude to them on-air and said, “This circumstance I’m in, stage 4 lung cancer, this is a very, very difficult thing for members of the family. It’s scary. It’s scary for all kinds of reasons; the unknown. And it’s day-to-day scary. And yet I am greeted each day with the best efforts that everybody in my life is making.”
Rush’s Advanced Lung Cancer
Limbaugh has been battling stage 4 lung cancer since February this year. As the cancer is advanced, it has spread to other parts of the body, beyond his lungs. Limbaugh shared that his disease progressed further during his third-wave of cancer treatment. As a result, his doctors will shift his current treatment in order to maintain the disease as much as possible, and prevent additional spreading.
Immunotherapy has been shown to help some lung cancer patients in dramatic ways. Dr. Brendon Stiles, a Thoracic Surgeon at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian, told SurvivorNet in a previous interview, “Almost all stage four patients now who don’t have targeted mutations or rearrangements are on a path where they’re going to see immunotherapy during their treatment course. And we really don’t know what the interaction of that is going to be with the virus.”
Dr. Stiles said that more data are needed to a clearer picture. “I think you could probably argue both ways that it may completely throw your immune system out of whack and predispose you to infection. Maybe because you’re getting an immune stimulus, you’re going to be able to fight off viruses better. I think we’re going to need a lot more data to really understand that better.”
Battling Lung Cancer During COVID-19
2020 is a uniquely difficult time for people fighting lung cancer. On top of cancer treatments, they must contend with the global pandemic which is, among other things, making hospitals more difficult to access, in some cases, due to overcrowding. Additionally, people fighting cancer may be more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 from being in an immunocompromised state as a result of some cancer treatments.
Dr. Karen Reckamp, the Director of the Division of Medical Oncology at Cedars-Sinai, told SurvivorNet in an earlier interview, “For our patients with lung cancer, they are not at more risk for developing COVID-19. But because most patients who have lung cancer and have had treatment or are receiving treatment for lung cancer have some compromise to their lung function, we are concerned about the possibility of the COVID-19 developing into pneumonia or respiratory illness that may cause more severe illness for patients who have lung cancer.”
Dr. Reckamp advised people with lung cancer to continue practicing safety precautions. She said, “At this time, for patients with lung cancer or any type of cancer, still, the best thing we can do is to keep to ourselves and keep to the small groups of people that we are living with, to frequently wash our hands, clean off surfaces in the home, and minimize the amount of time that you are out of the home and interacting.For patients who are on treatment, it becomes necessary sometimes to come into a health care setting.”