• Colorectal Cancer Info MAIN MENU
  • Screen MAIN MENU
  • Care MAIN MENU
  • Cure MAIN MENU
  • Get Involved MAIN MENU
  • Our Mission MAIN MENU

Subscribe to the Newsletter

With information from trusted sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cancer.gov, and our very own Medical Scientific Advisory Committee, the Alliance is making timely, informed decisions about events, patient support, and Alliance programs.

Continue to monitor this page and the Alliance Facebook page for up-to-date information.

We encourage you to call our Helpline for ongoing support or with additional questions. Our certified navigators are available to help answer questions and speak with you about any concerns or fears.

Alliance Helpline: (877) 422-2030

COVID-19

Supporting the Patient Community

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance is closely monitoring COVID-19. Our priority is the well-being of our caregivers, volunteers, donors, employees, partners, and the patients we serve – especially those with compromised immune systems.

Below are some answers to commonly asked questions. Call our Helpline for ongoing support or with additional questions. Our certified navigators are available to talk you through any concerns or fears.

Alliance Helpline: (877) 422-2030

  • Are there any current warnings we should be aware of?

    Yes. As part of our monitoring we will provide ongoing updates here.

    On August 14th the CDC updated the list of health conditions that increase a person’s risk of severe illness regardless of age from COVID-19 infection.

    These conditions include cancer.

    Having cancer currently increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19. At this time, it is not known whether having a history of cancer increases your risk.

    FDA cautions against use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for COVID-19 outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems.

  • What are the risks associated with COVID-19?

    COVID-19 can result in severe disease, including hospitalization, intensive care unit admission, and death, especially among older adults and people with additional underlying medical conditions (see above). Everyone should take critical actions, such as social distancing, wearing a mask and avoiding groups of people to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect vulnerable individuals from these risks.

  • How do I reduce my risk of getting COVID-19?

    In general, the more people you interact with, the more closely you interact with them, and the longer that interaction, the higher your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19.

    It is important that people with cancer, who are at a greater risk of severe disease, and those they live with them to reduce or eliminate the risk of getting COVID-19. These actions include:
     

    • Wash your hands with soapy water for 20 seconds or more. 
    • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and cover your hands and rub together until dry.
    • In public places, avoid touching common surfaces (doorknobs, elevator keys, handrails, etc.) without protection or means to disinfect them first.
    • Avoid contact with anyone who shows cold or flu-like symptoms.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your inner elbow shirtsleeve.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as desks, doorknobs, phones, and handrails.
    • Talk to your doctor about your treatment plan and how it could be modified to reduce your risk of being exposed to COVID19. See these guidelines from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® for Colorectal Cancer Patients During the COVID 19 Pandemic.
    • If you are currently on treatment, limit your exposure to people and avoid large gatherings.
    • The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings and maintaining at least 6 foot distance.
    • Focus on improving your immune system through sleep and exercise.
  • What impact does COVID-19 have on people with cancer?

    COVID-19 can result in severe disease, including hospitalization, intensive care unit admission, and death, especially among older adults and people with additional underlying medical conditions including cancer.

    People with cancer often have compromised immune systems (often referred to as being immunocompromised). This usually happens due to the drugs that are used to treat cancer and radiation, or surgery. When the immune system is compromised it is  harder for the body to fight off infections with bacteria or viruses such as SARS CoV-2 the virus that causes COVID-19.You can also have a weakened immune system if you are on steroids such as prednisone. 

    After treatments end, the immune system can rebuild itself and fully regain a functional immune system. However, this process takes time. Some research suggests that it can take between 2 to 9 months. 

    If you are currently receiving treatment it is recommended that you continue to do so using the precautions listed above.  It is also recommended that ALL preventative screenings be resumed, safely, at this time.

    If you currently have cancer, you are at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. At this time, it is not known whether having a history of cancer increases your risk.

    Speak with your doctor if you have concerns about your risk for COVID-19 being higher as a result of current or past cancer treatment.

  • How do I know if I have a compromised immune system?

    Cancer patients who receive radiation or chemotherapy have a weakened immune system (immunocompromised). This happens when radiation and chemotherapy treatments kill not only the cancer cells but also some of the immune system cells, especially white blood cells.

    Patients who are immunocompromised are more vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections including infection by SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

    After treatments end, the immune system can rebuild itself and fully regain a functional immune system. However, this process takes time. Some research suggests that it can take between 2 to 9 months. 

    Speak with your doctor if you have concerns about your risk for COVID-19 being higher as a result of current or past cancer treatment.

  • What are other risk factors?

    Data from other countries suggest that people who are 60 years old or older are more likely to experience severe illness due to COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eight out of the ten deaths (80%) in the US since March 16, 2020 occurred among people who are 65 years old or older. Additional conditions that increase the risk of a severe illness due to COVID-19 include:

    • Chronic kidney disease
    • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
    • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
    • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)
    • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Type 2 diabetes mellitus


    Based on what is known at this time, people with the following conditions might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:
     

    • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
    • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
    • Cystic fibrosis
    • Hypertension or high blood pressure
    • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
    • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
    • Liver disease
    • Pregnancy
    • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
    • Smoking
    • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
    • Type 1 diabetes mellitus
  • What symptoms should I watch for?

    If you think you developed signs of COVID-19, call your doctor and seek immediate medical attention. Signs and symptoms may include:

    • Cough
    • Fever
    • Diarrhea (digestive problems may be an early sign)
    • Chills
    • Repeated shaking with chills
    • Muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • New loss of taste or smell
       

    If you develop any of these urgent warning signs, call 911 or head to the nearest emergency room:

    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • Bluish lips or skin
    • Sudden confusion or inability to wake up

     

  • What general practices I should follow?
    • Wash your hands for 20 seconds or more with soapy water or, at a minimum, alcohol-based sanitizer (which may be less effective than soap and water).
    • In public places, avoid touching common surfaces (doorknobs, elevator keys, handrails, etc.) without protection or means to disinfect them first.
    • Avoid close contact with anyone who shows cold or flu-like symptoms.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your inner elbow shirtsleeve.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as desks, doorknobs, phones, and handrails.
    • Talk to your doctor about your treatment plan and how it could be modified to reduce your risk of being exposed to COVID19. See these guidelines: Guidelines from The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) for Colorectal Cancer Patients During the COVID 19 Pandemic.
    • The American Cancer Society is recommending routine screenings be delayed at this time. If you're due for your colonoscopy or appointment, discuss postponing or the possibility of tele-visits with your medical team. Call our Helpline to discuss other options with our certified navigators.
    • If you are currently on treatment, limit your exposure to people and avoid large gatherings.
    • The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies).
    • Focus on improving your immune system through sleep and exercise.
  • Where can I turn for financial, employment, and insurance needs that have emerged as a result of the current environment?

    Luckily there is support for those currently needing help applying for health insurance, delaying household bills and loan payments, and more. The national opportunities are changing every day. Check out this page for more on new, crisis-related options that are being offered each day and the Alliance’s Support and Financial Services Guide for ongoing resources by state to meet your needs.

  • Where can I learn more?

    Consult your doctor with any concerns about your treatment or overall health. Do not discontinue treatment or doctors’ visits without discussing with your healthcare providers. If you want more information on COVID-19, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cancer.gov, or Cancer.net.

    For more information on colorectal cancer and COVID-19, please read Guidelines from The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) for Colorectal Cancer Patients During the COVID 19 Pandemic.

Information about Screening


During this current health crisis, several organizations are recommending postponing visits to healthcare facilities for routine cancer screenings, such as colonoscopies. However, there are alternative methods for colorectal cancer screening which can be performed in the privacy of your own home without going to see a doctor. Note that if you use an at-home test and receive a positive result, you will require a follow-up physician visit which may be postponed due to COVID-19.

Please visit our screening information page for additional information.

If you are currently experiencing symptoms, such as rectal bleeding, abdominal discomfort, or a change in bowel habits, contact your primary care physician or gastroenterologist (GI doctor). They may be seeing patients using telehealth services (virtual visits).

For any additional questions, please contact our Helpline at 877-422-2030.

Screening saves lives - as soon as restrictions are lifted, it is important to get back on track with routine cancer screenings as soon as possible.

Are you sure?

Clicking "Start Over" will empty your resources drawer and take you back to the beginning of the journey customizer. Would you like to continue?

Are you sure?

Clicking "Exit" will permanently close your resource drawer for the rest of the session. If you would like to minimize the drawer and access it from other pages, click the symbol next to "MY RESOURCES". Would you like to permanently exit the drawer?