Covid-19 and Breast Cancer Care

For those with breast cancer, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected just about every aspect of cancer care, including screening, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care. Only urgent symptomatic cases have been prioritised for diagnostic intervention since the national lockdown was introduced in March. Need2Know Books is giving free digital access to The Essential Guide to Breast Cancer. A paperback copy of the book is available with a 30% discount enter N2k30off at checkout. Visit: for more details.

Since the coronavirus crisis began, those with a breast cancer diagnosis and those who are at high risk for breast cancer have been put in a uniquely difficult and sometimes frightening position.

Without the necessary information, many have been left wondering if they should postpone their screenings and treatments, or if it’s safe to carry on with these appointments. For others, vital treatment has been altered or delayed whether they like it or not.

Breast Cancer: Key Facts

Breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in females. Only around 2.7%, or 1 in 37, of those diagnosed are expected to die from the disease.

Breast cancer is likely to develop in 1 in 8 women over the course of their lives, and 1 in 870 men. Exactly how Covid-19 could affect people diagnosed with cancer is not yet clear, as research on Covid-19 and cancer is very limited. Similarly, the impact that different types of cancer could have on Covid-19 outcomes is not yet known.

Thousands of preventable deaths from breast cancer and other cancer types may occur over the next few years, as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As has been reported regularly throughout the pandemic, coronavirus brings a much higher risk of serious complications for those who have weakened immune systems or lung problems.

Developing Covid-19 can also be particularly dangerous for those who have breast cancer which has spread (metastasized) to the lungs, as the disease can make these lung problems worse.

Breast Cancer and Risks of Covid

People with breast cancer may also be at higher risk of developing Covid-19 complications as they may be more likely to have other risk factors. You may be at greater risk, for example, if you…

  • Have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Have a pre-existing heart condition.
  • Suffer ill-health as a result of your weight (obesity).
  • Have SCD (Sickle Cell Disease), type 2 diabetes or chronic kidney disease.
  • Are aged 65 and above.

Ongoing Studies

The outcomes of adults around the world who have been diagnosed with cancer and infected with Covid-19 are now being tracked to clear up some of the uncertainty by a research project based at Vanderbilt University, the COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium (CCC19).

This project has attracted participation from over a hundred different cancer centres and organisations.

Including information on 928 different patients across the US, Spain and Canada who had been diagnosed with both cancer and Covid-19, the first CCC19 was published in the Lancet in May 2020.

20% of the people in this group had been diagnosed with breast cancer, making it the most common cancer in the sample. 30% of the group were older than 75, while half were over 66.

The mortality rate for those involved in the study ended up being about twice the death rate for all people with Covid-19, with about 13% of those involved in the study dying.

While visiting your GP might seem especially daunting right now, if you suspect you may have breast cancer, it’s vital that you go and get checked by a medical professional.

To learn all about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, check out The Essential Guide to Breast Cancer from Need2Know Books.


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