What Cancer Patients Should Know about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey together with RWJBarnabas Health is the state’s leading authority on cancer. As such, we want to help our patients navigate and better understand how the coronavirus may impact them. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

What do cancer patients need to know about the coronavirus?

Doctors and health officials agree the best way to prevent the coronavirus is to avoid exposure. This is especially important for cancer patients because they are at higher risk for serious illness if infected, particularly bone marrow transplant patients and patients who are in active chemotherapy. That’s because their immune systems are suppressed or eliminated by the treatment.  Call your doctor if you have symptoms of COVID-19, which include: fever, cough, or shortness of breath.

Are cancer patients at a higher risk of developing the coronavirus?

Patients who are in active cancer treatment may be at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus because their immune systems are often weakened by cancer and its treatments. Those who have underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. Cancer patients who finished treatment a few years ago or longer have immune systems that have most likely recovered, but each person is different. The majority of individuals who do get the coronavirus will have a mild case. 

If I have cancer, should I receive the COVID-19 vaccine? 

Review the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for  people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems, including cancer patients. 

Read more about the COVID-19 vaccine in RWJBarnabas Health's FAQ.

Understanding COVID-19 Vaccines Infographic

What should I be aware of when visiting Rutgers Cancer Institute?

At Rutgers Cancer Institute, we have instituted temporary changes to our visitor guidelines which should be reviewed prior to coming for an appointment. View the guidelines here. All visitors 18 years of age and under will not be permitted. 

Where can I find more information on the coronavirus?