Cancer and coronavirus: common questions

Some types of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, can weaken a person’s immune system. This may increase your risk of infection, including your risk for health complications from COVID-19. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about cancer and coronavirus.


How can I protect myself from the coronavirus?

If you are in the higher risk category of people, it is crucial that you take actions to limit your chances of getting sick. The CDC recommends some important guidelines to protect yourself:

  • Stay home if possible.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others (stay 6 feet away, which is about two arm lengths).
  • Keep away from people who are sick.
  • Stock up on supplies.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched services.
  • Avoid all cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
  • Call your healthcare professional if you have concerns about COVID-19 and your underlying condition or if you are sick.
  • Steps You Can Take (Printer Friendly version)


Should I wear a face mask?

All Ohioans are strongly encouraged to wear face masks when leaving the house for essential errands. In a recent press conference, Governor Mike DeWine recommended this added step of protection. He noted that they are not required at this time, but he did not rule out the possibility of requiring them in the future. The CDC, on the other hand, does recommend wearing a cloth mask in public, especially in places where the required social distancing of six feet is difficult to maintain and in communities where transmission rates are higher.


What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

People with coronavirus have reported a wide range of symptoms. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms. 2-14 days after exposure infected people have reported feeling symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell


What should I do if I experience mild symptoms?

If you experience mild symptoms, you will most likely be able to recover at home. It is important to track your symptoms and contact your healthcare provider immediately. 


What should I do if I experience emergency symptoms?

If you are having emergency symptoms, seek medical help right away by calling 911. Emergency symptoms are things like: trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse and/or bluish lips or face. This list is not exhaustive. If you need to call 911, notify the dispatcher that you think you have COVID-19. If you have a mask, it is recommended that you put it on before first responders arrive.


Does my health insurance cover COVID-19 testing?

According to, “under the terms of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R.6201), Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance plans – including grandfathered plans – are required to fully cover the cost of COVID-19 testing, without any cost-sharing or prior-authorization requirements, for the duration of the emergency period. That includes the cost of the lab services as well as the provider fee at a doctor’s office, urgent care clinic, or emergency room where the test is administered.” 


There are some exclusions to the act. Minimum essential coverage plans are not required to participate. 


If I received chemotherapy or radiation treatment in the past, am I at increased risk for getting COVID-19?

So far, there is no evidence available to suggest that having prior cancer treatments raise your risk for getting COVID-19.


For more information on the novel coronavirus, visit the CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 resource page or talk with your physician or cancer treatment team.