Myeloma UK news // 10th March 2020
Since reports of the spread of the coronavirus began, our Myeloma Infoline and Ask the Nurse services have received a lot of inquiries about what this means for myeloma patients. Our Myeloma Information Specialists have pulled together a list of frequently asked questions to help you understand the current situation.
Myeloma UK news // 10th March 2020
Current on 25/03/20.
Last updated: 25/03/20
One Cancer Voice guidance
Updated 24/03/20: We have been working with other cancer charities to create the One Cancer Voice guidance for cancer patients on COVID-19 which you can find here.
How vulnerable am I to the coronavirus if I have myeloma?
Myeloma patients, even those in remission, are at increased risk of infections. Myeloma affects how well the immune system responds to infection as it suppresses the production of healthy immune cells (white blood cells). The risk of infection is further increased in patients who have active (symptomatic) myeloma, are undergoing myeloma treatment (especially those undergoing high-dose therapy and stem cell transplantation – HDT-SCT) and in those who have recovered slowly from infection in the past.
Your susceptibility to infection is regularly monitored by your doctor (haematologist) or clinical nurse specialist (CNS) using blood tests to measure your white blood cell count. You should discuss any specific concerns you have with your healthcare team who are best placed to advise you.
What is the best way to protect myself from infection?
The best way to protect yourself from infections (both viral and bacterial) is by frequent and thorough hand washing. We also know that asking people to cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, not touching your eyes or nose, and avoiding contact with people that have any obvious signs or symptoms of infection will also help to reduce your risk of infection. Research has shown that these simple common-sense practices are the best way to reduce risk.
Updated 23/03/2020: It is advised the myeloma patients will be contacted from 23 March with information about protecting themselves from COVID-19. This will involve following shielding measures to reduce their risk of infection. Patients are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks. They should minimise all non-essential contact with anyone they live with other members of their household and not go out for shopping, leisure or travel. When arranging food or medication deliveries, these should be left at the door to minimise contact.
For more information about current guidance regarding COVID-19 visit our COVID-19 information hub.
I have recently undergone a stem cell transplant and am in remission. Will my immune system have sufficiently recovered to combat the virus?
Your immune function can take a long time to fully recover following HDT-SCT. Your susceptibility to infection and immune function is regularly monitored by your clinical team using blood tests, and you should ask your doctor or CNS for information and reassurance about how your immune system is functioning and your level of vulnerability.
Should I stop having visitors to my house?
Updated 23/03/2020: Current advice states that people with a very high-risk of COVID-19 should follow shielding measures. This means myeloma patients should avoid all face-to-face contact, should not leave their homes, and within their homes should minimise all non-essential contact with anyone they live with. You should not go out for shopping, leisure or travel. and, when arranging food or medication deliveries, these should be left at the door to minimise contact. You should not have any visitors unless they are providing essential care for you.
Instead, you can keep in touch using technology such as phone, Skype, FaceTime or social media.
Should I visit my consultant if I think I have contracted coronavirus?
Updated 17/03/2020: If you suspect you have coronavirus or have a high temperature and/or cough you should not go to your appointment. It is recommended that you should stay at home for at least 7 days. Contact your clinical team or NHS 111 (by phone or online) for advice on what to do next.
Myeloma patients are also advised not to visit their GP if they think they may have the coronavirus, and to contact their clinical team or NHS 111 in the first instance. Patients in Scotland are advised to call their GP or, if their call is out of hours, contact NHS 24 on 111. Patients in Wales are asked to call 111 (if available in their area) or call 0845 46 47. Patients in Northern Ireland are asked to call 0300 200 7885.
I am in remission and shortly have my routine monthly appointment at my clinic. Should I attend?
Updated 23/03/2020: Current advice recommends that people with a very high-risk of COVID-19, like myeloma or AL amyloidosis patients, follow shielding measures. This involves staying at home at all times and avoiding any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks. Therefore, some routine appointments will be carried out over the phone or could be postponed. Check with your clinical team to find out if there are any changes to your appointments.
Should myeloma patients avoid contact with anyone who has travelled to a country that has high levels of coronavirus?
Updated 23/03/2020: Current advice recommends that people with a very high-risk of COVID-19, like myeloma patients, follow shielding measures. This involves staying at home at all times and avoiding any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks.
For anyone that has concerns about their health following recent travel to affected countries in the last 14 days, it is advisable to contact the NHS 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do.
I have myeloma and have booked a holiday, should I still travel?
Updated 17/03/2020: The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises British people against all non-essential travel worldwide.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has produced information on travel insurance implications following the outbreak which you can find here.
Should I still attend meetings and community events whilst the coronavirus is active?
Updated 23/03/2020: Current advice states that people with a very -high risk of COVID-19 should follow shielding measures. This means patients should avoid all face-to-face contact, should not leave their homes, and within their homes should minimise all non-essential contact with anyone they live with. Do not go out for shopping, leisure or travel and, when arranging food or medication deliveries, these should be left at the door to minimise contact.
You can keep in touch using technology such as phone, Skype, FaceTime or social media.
How do I stay up to date with advice?
Health officials and the government are reviewing the situation in the UK on an ongoing basis and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The latest NHS and government advice on how to manage the coronavirus can be found here.
Further information regarding the number of cases and risk level in the UK, what to do if you’re a returning traveller, and what the government is doing about the virus is also available here.
Further information on what self-isolation means can be found here.
Article posted 12:11pm 10/3/2020, last update 13:30pm 24/03/2020