Winter lows increase infections for cancer patients

January 13th, 2009 - 10:42 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 13 (IANS) In the peak of winter, those suffering from cancer of the immune system are also fighting another battle - that against infections - as it is difficult for them to stand the weather change and their chances of being infected increase 15-20 percent, doctors say.”Due to weak immune system those suffering from some types of cancers are more prone to infections that increases at the rate of 15-20 percent during winter,” Max Healthcare oncologist Amit Bhargava said.

“Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy weaken the immune system which helps fight off infections; as a result, these cancer patients are at a higher risk for getting or developing flu that can cause serious illness,” he added.

Cancer of the immune system also increases the chances of low immunity in cancer patients.

Artemis Health Institutes head oncologist Ashok Vaid told IANS that people suffering from cancer of the immune system like leukaemia (blood cancer) are more prone to infections than people suffering from any other cancer.

Apollo Indraprastha Hospital’s senior consultant surgical oncologist Feroz Pasha said that the white blood cells (WBCs) that help the body to defend itself against infections and foreign materials are fewer in the bodies of blood cancer patients - resulting in a weak immune system.

“They should use immune-booster supplements during their treatment and should keep a track of their WBCs as they are more prone to get chest infections,” Pasha explained.

Other problems that this season brings for cancer patients are viral infections and respiratory problems.

“Once a virus attacks a cancer patient he should start taking precautions or else chances of getting bacterial infection increase and this could worsen the situation further,” Vaid said.

“Also one should always check for symptoms of flu which can be high fever, severe headaches, muscle aches and pains, extreme tiredness, cough and chest discomfort or sore throat,” he added.

People with cancer are also at higher risk of having bone complications.

“Cancer and cancer treatments may also increase the risk of bone complications. For this they should take vitamin D in plenty and sunshine is one of the best sources of vitamin D,” Bhargava explained.

He said that the patient should spend at least 10 to 15 minutes in the sun at least twice a week. Also he should eat more cheese and yogurt as they contain vitamin D.

Cancer treatments such as radiation therapy may result in skin problems as well.

“Keeping the skin hydrated and healthy is important. Avoiding long baths or showers, using gentle soaps, applying moisturizing lotions, drinking a lot of water can also help in protecting the skin during winter,” Bhargava said.

He, however, cautioned that it is always advisable to consult a doctor before undertaking any of these measures.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Health Science |