COVID-19: What the Brain Tumor Community Needs to Know

This information was last updated on April 28, 2020.

A core value of NBTS is, “Patients First,” and as such we are committed to providing helpful, accurate, timely, and reliable content to our community regarding coronavirus (COVID-19). Below is information we have compiled, in one easy to access spot, to help you better understand our response to COVID-19, how to protect yourself and others, and what resources are available for behavioral health support.

As we have seen over these past few weeks, the situation with COVID-19 is fluid and information is at times overwhelming. We will continue to provide to our community facts you can count on as we navigate the road ahead together.

COVID-19 and Brain Tumors – Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 is a novel form of a large family of viruses called coronaviruses. The illness causes flu-like symptoms, with the major complication arising from impacts to the respiratory system.

The disease can spread from person to person, through small droplets from the nose or mouth that may spread when a person coughs or sneezes. Another person may catch COVID-19 by breathing in these droplets or by touching a surface that the droplets have landed on and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.

Individuals over the age of 60 and those with chronic conditions and/or compromised immune systems are likely at higher-risk for contracting the virus as well as experiencing a more severe illness after infection. Many brain tumor patients, especially malignant brain tumor patients, are considered high-risk, as chemotherapy and radiation can compromise a patient’s immune system, making them more susceptible to COVID-19.

For a comprehensive collection of information regarding COVID-19, visit The National Institutes of Health COVID-19 resource page. 

How Can I Protect Myself?

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Precautions for avoiding COVID-19 are the same as for other contagious respiratory illnesses, such as influenza (flu).

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyday preventive measures to help prevent the spread of respiratory infections, including to:

What to Know if You are Currently Receiving Treatment

If you are receiving treatment for a brain tumor, you may need to travel to your doctor’s office or hospital for medical care. If so, consider these additional precautions, as well as those above:

Consider these other precautions as well:

As health care facilities work to protect their patient populations and staff, you may see restrictions at your treating hospital that include reduced entry points into the hospital, a screening of visitors for possible symptoms of COVID-19, and no visitors under a certain age allowed to enter the building, as examples. You may want to visit the website of your treating hospital or call your treatment team ahead of your next appointment so you are prepared for any changes that await you upon arrival.

Preparing for a Telehealth Appointment

Health care providers are turning to telehealth solutions for conducting certain services remotely. Check with your care team and health insurance provider to see if this is available to you, appropriate for you, and covered within your plan.

If telemedicine is an option for you, below are some tips and suggestions for preparing for a virtual appointment.

For more information visit: National Cancer Institute – What should I do about getting treatment?

What to Know if you are a Participant in a Clinical Trial

Call your clinical trial research team and follow their guidance.

Additional Resources:

If I Have Cancer, Am I at Higher Risk of Getting COVID-19?

Some types of cancer and treatments such as chemotherapy can weaken your immune system and may increase your risk of any infection, including COVID-19. During chemotherapy, there will be times in your treatment cycle when you are at increased risk of infection.

Adults and children with serious chronic health conditions, including cancer, are at higher risk of developing more serious complications from contagious illnesses such as COVID-19.

At this time, there is no evidence to support changing or withholding chemotherapy or immunotherapy in patients with cancer. Withholding critical anti-cancer or immunosuppressive therapy is not currently recommended.

For more information visit: National Cancer Institute – What People with Cancer Should Know.

If You Have COVID-19 or Think You Might Have It

Call your health care provider if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and have symptoms of an infection.

If you are caring for someone with COVID-19 at home, monitor for emergency signs, prevent the spread of germs, treat symptoms, and carefully consider when to end home isolation

For more information visit: CDC – Caring for Someone with COVID-19 at Home.

Should I Wear a Facemask?

In light of new evidence, 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) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

Medical and Treatment Developments for COVID-19

For the latest science-based information regarding COVID-19 and the products we use, the food we eat, and the medicine we take, visit the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the Food and Drug Administration.

Taking Care of Your Behavioral Health

A stressful situation like an infectious disease outbreak that requires social distancing, quarantine, or isolation can cause a variety of reactions in different people. You may feel:

Ways to Cope with Stress:

If you or a loved one experience any of these reactions for 2 to 4 weeks or more, contact your health care provider or one of the resources below. For more information on COVID-19 and behavioral health, visit: CDC – COVID-19 Stress and Coping.

Other resources related to COVID-19 and anxiety can be found with these links:

Resources for Helping our Children Cope During COVID-19

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline Toll-Free: 1-800-985-5990 (English and Español)
SMS: Text TalkWithUs to 66746
SMS (Español): “Hablanos” al 66746
TTY: 1-800-846-8517
Website (English): http://www.disasterdistress.samhsa.gov
Treatment Locator Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator Website: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/

Information for Parents of Children with Cancer

Peer to Peer Connections During COVID-19

Financial Assistance Resources

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