How COVID-19 Vaccine Affects Cancer Patients

How COVID-19 Vaccine Affects Cancer Patients

Since the beginning of March 2020, COVID-19 has been affecting the lives of millions. 13.1 million people have been affected in India alone. With millions of people getting COVID-19, cancer patients and those in recovery are one of the worst affected groups by the immunodeficiency virus.

COVID-19 Vaccine

While the fear of COVID-19 was multiplying, the scientists worked tirelessly and developed vaccination or immunization against the virus. 

COVID-19 Vaccine and Cancer Patients

People with cancer fall in the priority group of people with certain high-risk medical conditions.

Experts and medical groups recommend that people suffering from dangerous diseases such as cancer should get the vaccine, as soon as it is available to them. But, when it comes to the effectiveness of the vaccine, people with weakened immune systems might be on the shorter end of the stick.

There is no solid research on the effectiveness of the vaccine on cancer patients, or patients who have gone through chemotherapy, bone marrow transplant, or immunotherapy. Before getting vaccinated, always consult a cancer specialist.

Even with the lack of research and trials, experts suggest that getting vaccinated is a better option than not getting vaccinated at all. It is better to be partially immune to the virus than not have any immunity at all against the virus. Experts recommend that most cancer patients should get vaccinated as they are already immune-deficient making them vulnerable to the virus.

COVID vaccine and hematological cancer

Vaccine against COVID-19 has two doses. Research suggests that the first dose has 13% efficacy on hematological cancer patients while 39% efficacy on solid cancer patients.

According to this research, for all hematological patients, the second dose of the vaccine on the 21st day is crucial. The second dose of vaccine develops antibodies against the virus for hematological cancer patients. 

COVID-19 vaccine and breast cancer

COVID-19 vaccine may have side effects which include pain, redness, fever, chills, and nausea. For some people, the side effects can also include swelling of the lymph nodes under the injection site. As swollen lymph nodes are a sign of breast cancer, it is best to visit a doctor if it lasts for more than a week or two. 

For people who have breast cancer or have a history of breast cancer, it is suitable to get injected on the other side of the cancer-affected area. In case, recoverers were affected by cancer in both the breasts, please consult your oncologist before getting vaccinated.

Everyone has a different response to the vaccine. So, it’s best for cancer patients to consult their oncologist before and after getting vaccinated for the best results. 

Dr. S.K Gupta, the founder of Hematology BMT Institute International, is an oncologist and hematologist with 15 years of experience. He is among the best oncologists in India with experience in crucial cases of cancer and rare diseases. In case of queries regarding cancer and COVID-19 vaccine, you can consult him at Hematology BMT Institute International, Hyderabad, or Email: drguptahematologycare @gmail.com

 

Cancer in Women

Types of Cancers That Affect Women

This Women’s Day, we focus on women’s health & the ways we can improve it.

 

It has been proven that cancer affects women less frequently when compared to men. In recent trends, women have survived the disease more than men. Yet, one in every three women will be diagnosed with cancer at least once in their lifetime, according to the National Cancer Institute.

A number of cancers are specific to women. Ovarian cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer are just to name a few. The majority of women do not have knowledge about these cancers and hence are oblivious of the diseases that can be fatal to their lives. Knowledge and awareness about these life-threatening diseases is the first step to conquer the fight against cancer.

 

Ovarian Cancer:

Overview: Ovarian cancer derives its name from ovaries – a female organ that produces eggs for reproduction. The disease starts at the ovaries which can later spread to the rest of the body. This cancer usually goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and stomach. It is extremely fatal at this stage.

Who can get it: Ovarian cancer can occur at any stage of life but older women are more likely to get it. Women with a family history of hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC or Lynch Syndrome), breast cancer, ovarian cancer are at an increased risk. However, women who do not fulfill any of these criteria can also get ovarian cancer.

When to see a doctor: Though there is no specific screening for ovarian cancer, women who have the following symptoms for more than a few weeks should get in touch with a medical oncologist.

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer:

  1. Abdominal swelling with weight loss
  2. Digestive problems
  3. Pelvic/ Abdominal pain
  4. Need to urinate all the time.

Cervical Cancer:

Overview: A malignant tumor in the cervix – the lowermost part of the uterus is called cervical cancer. Human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause chronic infections which is one of the major risks that can lead to cervical cancer. 

Who can get it: All women are at risk of cervical cancer. However, women above the age of 30 are more susceptible to it.

When to see a doctor: In case you notice any of the below symptoms, it is advisable to visit the doctor.

Symptoms of Cervical Cancer:

  1. Bleeding in between menstruation cycles
  2. Bleeding after sexual intercourse. 

For preventing cervical cancer, it is suggested for women to get the complete dose of HPV vaccine shots. Hematology BMT Institute International vaccinates children and adults against HPV.  


Endometrial cancer

Overview: Cancer in the inner lining of the uterus or endometrium is known as endometrial cancer. 

Who can get it: As women get older the risk of the disease increases. Teens with early onset of periods, women with delayed menopause, and family history of infertility can multiply the risks. A family history of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), obesity, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC or Lynch syndrome) is also add-on risks.

When to visit a doctor: See a doctor, if you notice any of the below symptoms, it is advisable to visit the doctor.


Symptoms of Endometrial Cancer:

  1. Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge.
  2. Vaginal discharge ranging from pink to thick, brown, water, and foul-smelling.
  3. Painful urination.
  4. An enlarged uterus, detectable during a pelvic exam.

Breast Cancer

Overview: The cancer of the breasts is known as breast cancer. 

Who can get it: It is the most common cancer in women after skin cancer. Although it can occur at any stage, the risks increase as women get older. Women with uterine myoma are more susceptible to breast cancer.

Women should go for regular screenings like mammograms and should generally know how their breasts look and feel. Any changes that are witnessed should be directly reported to the oncologists for early detection.

When to see a doctor: Women can perform a self-exam for checking breast cancer. If any of the following symptoms are seen, it is recommended to check with your doctor:

Symptoms of Breast Cancer:

  1. Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
  2. A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out)
  3. Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling
  4. Lumps in your breasts

Due to the anatomy of a female body, women are more susceptible to a number of diseases, and when it comes to breast, endometrial, cervical, ovarian cancer, even more so. Regular screening and self-examination can save women the hassle of going through life-threatening medical conditions. 

Dr. S.K. Gupta, founder of Hematology BMT Institute International insists, “regular screening can avoid huge risks. Women should know that the most reliable way to detect  cancer early on is regular screening.” 

While all cancers cannot be prevented, we can surely focus on lowering the risks by taking necessary precautions and getting vaccinated. A cancer-free world is not a far-fetched dream with adequate cancer awareness and alertness. 

World Cancer Day

The World Against Cancer

4th February is marked as World Cancer Day. World Cancer day targets the awareness, prevention, and treatment of cancer, led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). The day’s primary goal is to show support to cancer-victims, survivors and reduce stigma. 

2021 marks the end of the “I am and I will” initiative to counter false information and counter negative attitudes towards the victim. The campaign’s goal is to debunk the myth that nothing can be done about cancer. The initiative explores how personal growth, individual actions can collectively impact the fatalistic belief.

 

What is cancer?

Cancer is a disease in which uncontrollable cell growth becomes fatal. It has the potential to grow and invade other parts of the body. Cancer is also known as a malignant tumor. 

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the world, next to cardiovascular diseases. Globally speaking, one in every six deaths is caused by cancer. According to WHO, cancer was responsible for a whopping 9.6 million deaths in 2018.

In India, the estimated number of cases by 2025 is 15.7 lakhs being more prevalent in women. India witnessed 784,800 cancer deaths in 2018 and 1.16 million new cancer cases. 

According to WHO, some of the cancers are the most common. Lung cancer, Breast cancer, Colorectal cancer, Prostate cancer, Skin cancer, and Stomach cancer tops the list. 

Lung cancer, Colorectal cancer, Stomach cancer, Liver cancer, and Breast cancer are the most fatal and cause the maximum number of deaths.

 

Causes of Cancer

Cancer can be a genetic problem, but various external factors can lead to malignant tumors’ development. Consumption of tobacco leads to approximately 22% percent of cancer deaths.

External factors such as ionizing radiation, carcinogenic foods, biological carcinogens, electromagnetic fields, and high BMI are responsible for most cancer cases. 

In low and middle-income countries, hepatitis and human papillomavirus (HPV)– cancer-causing infections are responsible for 25% of the cancer cases. 

 

Cancer Precautions

Avoiding risk-based factors can bring down the cancer cases by 30-50%. Key risk factors such as consumption of carcinogenic food (red meat, processed food, alcohol, etc.), tobacco, obesity, alcohol, and unhealthy diets can be avoided and can bring down many cancer cases caused by external factors. Vaccination against HPV and hepatitis B virus is an equally important factor in fighting cancer. Avoiding occupational hazards, exposure to ultraviolet and ionizing radiation is easy and can significantly change the world’s cancer scenario. 

Some of the cancers can be prevented by vaccination. Cervical cancer is one of them. Vaccination of cervical cancer is readily available across India. Hematology BMT Institute International vaccinates women against the cancer of the cervix.

 

 

Cancer Detection and Diagnosis

Early detection and treatment can save lives. PAP smears for cervical cancer, mammography for breast cancer are some of the screenings done once a year to know any abnormal developments.

Dr. S.K Gupta, the founder of Hematology BMT Institute International, says “Cancer is a word, not a sentence. You can be a victim of cancer or a survivor of cancer. It’s a mindset.” He believes that timely diagnosis can save hundreds of lives from cancer. In his 15 years of experience, he witnessed several cases where early diagnosis could decrease cancer chances. 

In 2021, Hematology BMT Institute International aims to achieve #FitIndia2021. A year to concentrate on oneself, reflect on our health and lifestyle. With #FitIndia2021, Hematology BMT Institute International promotes the prevention of diseases, identification through timely diagnosis and regular tests. #FitIndia2021 embarks the beginning of a healthy and safe lifestyle for everyone. 

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