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16:53 PM

NBC News: Cancer Patients Face Greater Risk During COVID-19 Pandemic

NBC News recently interviewed Heather McArthur, MD, a breast medical oncologist at Cedars-Sinai Cancer, and her patient, Shanti Stappas, about receiving cancer care amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

For Stappas, who was diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer in January 2020 and is being cared for by McArthur, delaying treatment wasn't a viable option. 

“It was hard enough for me to come to terms with the fact that I needed to adjust my lifestyle being on chemo,” said Stappas. “But then having to adjust my lifestyle being on chemo and social distancing to the degree that I’ve had to was something that was, it took me a while to come to terms with.”

However, before Stappas began treatment, McArthur planned carefully because some cancer treatments can also weaken immune systems, making patients vulnberable to COVID-19.

“I’m seeing in real time that we can get our cancer patients through the treatments they need with very specific precautions,” said McArthur. “And I’m very optimistic about the outcomes of our patients.”

As she shared with NBC News, Stappas’ advice to other cancer patients is to not hesitate to ask questions and trust your doctors and the answers and guidance they give.

“I strongly encourage anyone who suspects they might have cancer to get in touch with their physicians, as the use of telemedicine or other available physical-distancing tools will allow them to get medical help immediately,” said Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of Cedars-Sinai Cancer. “We have systems in place to ensure that every patient is safely taken care of during this challenging time.”

Click here to watch the complete story from NBC News.

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Going to the Doctor During COVID-19: What You Need to Know.