Patient while on anticancer treatment especially chemotherapy are more prone to infection of all kinds. Sometimes the infection can be severe and lead to death. Most of the infections are preventable and treatable. Currently due to modern treatment the deaths are very few for prevention simple hygiene and common sense are adequate. For treatment it is important that patient reports the sign early so that treatment can be started early.
Let us understand that most infection come from within the body especially the mouth, hands or skin, so keeping them clean all the time can prevent spread of infections.
Q 1 Which cancers are more prone to get infections
A 1 Though all the cancer patients are prone to get infections post chemotherapy, Blood cancers patients like AML or ALL are especially prone.
Q 2 What are the signs of infections
A 2 You should see your doctor immediately if you have-
- Fever more than 100.4 degrees
- Chills, cough or sore throat
- Ear pain or headache
- Skin Rash
- Loose stools
- Bloody urine or stool
Q 3 What steps should I take to lower my chances of infection
A 3 Wash your hands well
- Always wash your hands with soap and water when-
- Before you cook or eat
- After using bathroom
- After being in public space
- Sanitizer can also be used (Better check with doctor)
Stay extra clean
- Brush your teeth after each meal
- Take bath daily
- If you have a catheter, keep that area dry
- Stay away from big crowds, people who are sick
- Wash raw fruits very well as far as possible take only thick skinned fruits
- Stay away from flowers
- Use proper toilet hygiene and as far as possible , use separate bathroom
Q 4 Why is it important to avoid infections?
A 4 Cancer is a low immunity state, especially patients who are on chemotherapy. In such conditions even minor infection can become life threatening. As they say “prevention is better than cure”.
Q 5 What if I catch fever? Can I take crocin and wait till tomorrow morning?
A 5 There is a concept called as ‘Golden Hour’ in a patient with heart attack, which says that if a heart patient is brought to hospital within one hour many lives can be saved. Same concept applies to a patient of cancer who has low counts post chemotherapy. So, whenever you have fever, especially after chemotherapy, any fever has to be taken very seriously and doctor should be informed.