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COVID-19 information for people affected by cancer


Having a diagnosis of cancer can be extremely stressful, but particularly now during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Updated 12 July 2021

People with compromised immune systems or pre-existing medical conditions, including cancer, may be at increased risk of contracting coronavirus (COVID-19) and increased risk of more severe infection.

For people being treated for cancer, especially those who are immunocompromised, and for family members in close contact, it is important that you continue to practice social distancing and good hygiene, and limit family and social contact. Consult your doctor or cancer treatment team if you have any queries about your personal situation.

Whether you have cancer currently, had cancer in the past, or are caring for a loved one with cancer, the situation may be more challenging than usual. Your treatment team and all those working in cancer support and care, are working as hard as we can to make sure that you receive the best treatment and outcomes possible.

Our knowledge about COVID-19 is changing rapidly. If you are receiving cancer treatment that suppresses your immune system and you develop a fever or respiratory symptoms, call your oncologist or a member of your treatment team, as you usually would if you develop a fever while on treatment. Be sure to follow their guidance on actions to take.

Practise good hygiene

Everyone should practice good hygiene and social distancing to protect against infection, including people who have had cancer and family, friends and carers of people at increased risk of getting sick from COVID-19.

Good hygiene and taking care when interacting with other people are the best defences for you and your family against COVID-19. We recommend that you:

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue.
  • Put used tissues straight into the bin.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitisers.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • CIean and disinfect frequently used surfaces and objects such as mobile phones.
  • Stay 1.5 metres away from other people. This is called social distancing.
  • Avoid close contact with others, such as touching.
  • If you are sick, stay at home and avoid contact with others.
  • Avoid contact with people in the community who are unwell.
  • Avoid non-essential travel.

For people with cancer

People at increased risk of getting sick from COVID-19, such as people receiving treatment for cancer, and people living with metastatic cancer

As well as practising good hygiene:

  • Ensure you have adequate prescription and over-the-counter medications.
  • Think about having the chemist deliver your medicines.
  • When you need to go out in public, keep space between yourself and others, avoid crowds, stay away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
  • For people at increased risk of severe COVID-19 because of older age or chronic illness or if you are having chemotherapy or radiotherapy, physical distancing is most important. If you cannot maintain physical distance, wearing a mask is an important protective measure.
  • For people who choose to wear a mask it is important to wear it properly:
    • wash or sanitise your hands before putting it on or taking it off
    • make sure the mask covers your nose and mouth and fits snugly under your chin, over the bridge of your nose and against the sides of your face
    • do not touch the front of your mask while wearing or removing it
    • do not allow the mask to hang around your neck or under your nose
    • do not reuse single use masks; wash and dry reusable masks after use and store in a clean dry place.

For more information:

There is no vaccine for COVID-19 yet. However, this year, it is important to have your influenza vaccination as early in the flu season as possible.

Coronavirus Health Information Line

Call this line if you are seeking information on novel coronavirus. The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Phone: 1800 020 080

The Cancer Council Helpline

Cancer Council is a free, confidential telephone information and support service run by Cancer Councils in each state and territory. Call if you have a question about cancer, or if you're seeking emotional or practical support.

Phone: 13 11 20

Indigenous and multicultural resources

Links to resources and information for people with cancer, families and carers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups and multicultural communities on COVID-19 

Multicultural resources

Cancer Council Australia has published ‘Cancer and COVID-19: Information in your language’ information and resource sheets for people with cancer, including translations into other languages

  • English
  • Arabic
  • Chinese (simplified)
  • Chinese (traditional)
  • Farsi
  • Greek
  • Hindi
  • Italian
  • Korean
  • Punjabi
  • Spanish
  • Tagalog
  • Vietnamese

Phone: 1800 020 080

Non-urgent elective surgeries

Non-urgent elective surgeries - 22 May 2020

On 22 May 2020, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) issued a statement on restoration of elective surgery and hospital activity. The objective of the statement was to increase the availability of elective surgery and hospital activity in a safe and equitable way on a nationally consistent basis. Elective surgery to become available while ensuring surge capacity in the hospital system is maintained to respond to any localised COVID-19 outbreaks that occur. The statement can be found here.

Victoria – regional and metropolitan – 16 September 2020

On 16 September 2020, the Victorian State Government issued a statement that elective surgeries would resume across Victoria’s regional public and private hospitals from 17 September 2020, and in metropolitan Melbourne from the end of September, in line with the Victorian Government’s broader roadmaps for reopening and current public health advice.

The statement can be found here.

More information and resources