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Dr. Raez on Safety Measures to Combat Challenges of COVID-19 in Lung Cancer

Luis E. Raez, MD, discusses the safety measures that have been put in place at Memorial Cancer Institute in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in lung cancer.

Luis E. Raez, MD, medical director of Memorial Cancer Institute, and chief of Hematology/Oncology at Memorial Healthcare System, discusses the safety measures that have been put in place at Memorial Cancer Institute in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in lung cancer.

The symptoms related to COVID-19, particularly coughing, are also symptoms lung cancer, explains Raez. Patients with lung cancer are often smokers, and they may have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, use inhalers, or be on prednisone. These factors may lead to coughing due to fluid or obstruction. Moreover, pneumonitis is a potential toxicity of radiation therapy and immunotherapy, says Raez.

In an attempt to differentiate the symptoms COVID-19 from those of lung cancer, patients are screened, and their temperature is taken when they come into the hospital, explains Raez.

Testing the patient’s blood for the COVID-19 antibody is a potential option to determine whether patients might be immune to COVID-19, says Raez. Relying on immediate COVID-19 tests would quickly deplete available resources for patients who frequently come into the clinic.

Finally, separating patients with COVID-19 who are tested in the emergency room from those with cancer could minimize the risk of exposure, concludes Raez.

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