Cancer Patients & COVID-19 — When to Stay Home and When to Go in to Your Doctor

Published Mar 29, 2020

Dr. Brieze Keeley Bell UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine

With the coronavirus pandemic taking up so many of our country’s emergency health resources, many people facing cancer are worried about what happens if they do face some sort of complication from treatment. These fears are certainly warranted — so it’s important to understand some changes that are happening in oncology practices across the board as the U.S. medical system adjusts to the influx of COVID-19 cases.

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Dr. Brieze Keeley Bell, an attending physician at UCSF Medical Center, tells SurvivorNet the safest bet for people going through cancer treatment, or those who have just finished treatment, is to practice social distancing as much as possible. Taking advantage of tele-medicine when you do have a question or concern for your doctor is the best option right now.

“Having said that, there are several conditions that may indicate evolving emergencies that require you to be evaluated in person, either by your usual physician or by the team of doctors in the emergency room,” Dr. Bell says.

Dr. Bell gave some examples of conditions that would warrant a trip to the doctor or the ER, even in the current climate:

  • Uncontrollable nausea
  • Severe chest pain
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Confusion or loss of consciousness

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Dr. Brieze Keeley Bell is an integrative internist and palliative care physician at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. Read More