COVID-19 Q&A

University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center (UMGCCC) understands cancer patients' unique concerns about COVID-19. We want to help keep cancer patients safe while receiving the care they need.

Our experts answer questions on how this virus affects cancer patients and what steps you and your loved ones can take during this time.

Coronavirus Risk and Cancer

Am I at high risk for getting sick if exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19)?

All patients receiving or having recently completed cancer treatment are considered to be immunocompromised and at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19.

What cancer patients are considered immunocompromised?

All cancer patients should be careful to protect themselves from infection during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Patients who are actively receiving chemotherapy, or recently completed a course of chemotherapy or radiation, should be particularly careful. Similarly, those who have had a bone marrow transplant should be cautious.

How long past cancer treatment am I considered immunocompromised?

This varies significantly from patient to patient and depends on the treatment you received. If you are unsure, ask your oncologist.

How do I protect myself from coronavirus while getting cancer treatment?

  • Get vaccinated with one of the COVID vaccines if your malignancy and treatment plan allow.
  • Ensure that everyone in your house and your close relatives also get vaccinated.
  • Wear a mask when indoors when away from your home. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Screen all those you may come in contact with for coronavirus symptoms, including family. If the answer is yes to any of the following, do not allow them to be in the same room with you:

Is it safe to cancel my appointment, wait to have my lab work, or hold or stop my treatment? If I get coronavirus will my cancer move to my lungs or am I then at risk of developing lung cancer?

No.

What should I do if I think I (or my spouse) have coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Call the Nurse Call Line. UMGCCC patients may call the assistance line at 410-328-7609 for issues related to their cancer care.

Safety

Should I wear a mask?

Cancer patients receiving active treatment should continue to wear masks indoors away from home even if vaccinated. Patients who have had an allogeneic bone marrow transplant are generally advised to wear masks. Masks primarily help prevent the wearer from spreading germs to others; they are less effective in protecting the wearer from infection. 

Current temporary restrictions require everyone to wear masks in all UMMS facilities.

Should I wear gloves?

No. Good hand hygiene is your best protection. The coronavirus (COVID-19) gets on your gloves just as easily as it gets on your hands. If you visit UMGCCC's Stoler pavilion, you will be asked to remove your gloves and wash with hand sanitizer.

Am I at risk of developing coronavirus (COVID-19) after accepting a delivery?

No.

What can I do to help boost my immune system during this time?

Continue with healthy habits such as eating a balanced diet and getting physical activity or exercise.

Going Out in Public

Should I go to the grocery store?

No. You should have someone else go if they can or set up delivery.

Should I make my spouse take off their clothes before coming in the house after being out?

No. 

I don't have family and I need to go to the pharmacy or grocery store, what should I do?

Go first thing in the morning.

Should I stop working?

Check with your oncologist.

High Performing Hospitals | US News & World Report | 2021-22 | Cancer