John Theurer Cancer Center
FAQ for patients of the John Theurer Cancer Center
With the worldwide pandemic of COVID- 19, patients have asked what to do with their cancer treatment.
How do I know if I have COVID-19 and whom do I call?
The signs that can alert someone include fever (99.9 / oral temp), body aches, cough or shortness of breath.
If you have any symptom proceed as follows:
- If you are seen at the Cancer Center and are on treatment: call your oncologist’s office and or navigator to guide you on the next steps
- If you are not receiving any treatment and just come to the Cancer Center for routine follow ups, call your primary care doctor’s office to be evaluated and see if you need to be sent for testing for COVID-19
How is the John Theurer Cancer Center handling COVID-19:
Each patient is called the night before their visit to make sure they have no suspicious symptoms such as fever, body aches, cough or shortness of breath or have potentially been exposed to someone sick or affected.
- If patients have been exposed or have any symptoms and are just coming for routine follow up, they should go to their local doctor and we will reschedule their visit.
- For patients who have been exposed or have any symptoms and are on treatment or need to be seen at the Cancer Center, they will be equipped with a mask right at arrival and placed in a protected room. They will be evaluated by the team and tested right away. Based on the situation, you will be advised on the next steps to take.
All staff, patients, and if needed, patient companion will be masked upon entry to the Cancer Center and are expected to be worn for full duration of their time on site.
Should we still come in for a scheduled appointment?
Each patient is called the night before their appointment to discuss whether they need to come to the Cancer Center or if they can stay home and be evaluated locally. This is based on symptoms and where the patient is currently in their treatment plan.
Should we continue with treatment at this time?
We are evaluating each patient to make sure that nothing interferes and would prevent any treatment. Experience in Europe and China has shown patients have been able to continue
their treatment as long as they are being monitored and obviously not sick from the COVID-19 itself.
Should we continue to have our planned scans at this time?
Yes, all patients should continue with their planned CT or PET-CT or other imaging as needed. The radiology team knows how to take all precautions. We have the ability to schedule radiology testing at a center nearby where no COVID-19 patients go and appointments are spaced out. If it is just a routine follow up, we might reschedule a visit (by a few weeks) and hope to have even in the ability of using telemedicine in some cases in the meantime.
Should we continue with weekly labs?
Yes, weekly labs depend on the type of treatment that you’re receiving, particularly when a patient is receiving immunotherapy or other therapy. It’s important to monitor.
In an effort to keep you close to home, we are trying to do some of the labs locally, but if you have to come to the Cancer Center to be evaluated and get some labs, you will be called the night before to make sure that you have no symptoms and to remind you that you will be in a protected environment where everyone will take every precaution to make sure that you don’t have any risk of exposure.
Should I still come in this week since it is only a 3-month follow-up appointment?
We are in the process of assessing the patients who have long-term follow-up appointments and that do not need to be seen right now. We will delay them by a few weeks at least to see how things are going by then.
I think I have a fever, but I don’t have a thermometer.
When you are a cancer patient, it is very important to have a thermometer at home. If you have a fever (100F/oral), you must call your navigator to make sure we are informed and assess if you need to come to the Cancer Center and/or get blood work.
Are there any infected patients at the Cancer Center?
Given the large population of patients we see at the Cancer Center and the rapid development of this viral infection across the United States, including in our region, there likely are patients undergoing cancer therapy that have encountered the COVID-19 virus.
Currently, we are not aware of any infected patients at the Cancer Center. However, we continue to screen every patient prior to their appointment and when they enter the Cancer Center itself. Any suspicious patient would be put in isolation and away from other patients.
What happens if a patient is found to be positive at the Cancer Center?
If a patient is found to be positive after we do the test and get the results, the patient will be evaluated clinically to see if they need to be admitted and placed in isolation; otherwise they will be continued to be monitored at home and in close contact with our navigators to ensure that they are not developing further symptoms.
I am on chemotherapy and my immune system is weak. Should I be worried?
Patients receiving chemotherapy are at higher risk of developing COVID-19 because their immune system is weak. This is why it is critical to take all of these precautions, which include staying away from large crowds, use social distancing (at least 6 feet), washing your hands frequently, not touching your face, nose, eyes or mouth.
All of these measures are recognized to have a dramatic impact in preventing spreading of the virus and the disease COVID-19.
I am a daughter of a patient of John Theurer Cancer Center and I have a coworker who called out with symptoms of fever and cough, what should I do?
The coworker should go to their local physician to make sure they get evaluated to see if it is a common cold or something that needs to be taken more seriously such as COVID-19. Continue to use precautions:
- Washi your hands carefully and frequently
- Cover your mouth when sneezing and coughing with your arm
- Do not touch your face, eyes, nose or mouth.
- Make sure to clean common surfaces that your family can touch easily.
- Monitor yourself carefully, taking your temperature daily or twice daily (oral cut off 100F)
If you develop any symptoms, reach out to your primary care provider. However, remember more than 98 percent of people who will be exposed will not develop any symptoms or just mild seasonal flu-like symptoms and will recover very well.
Should I continue to go to work?
If you are currently receiving treatment at John Theurer Cancer Center and are currently working and have no symptoms, it is possible for you to continue to work. We recommend if you go to work to avoid large crowds, use social distancing (6 feet), wipe common surfaces, wash your hands frequently and extensively, cover your mouth when sneezing and coughing with your arm and do not touch your face, eyes, nose or mouth.
Should cancer patients wear a mask?
We recommend patients wear a mask in the Cancer Center and again use basic contact precautions such as avoiding large crowds, using social distancing (6 feet), wiping common
surfaces, washing your hands frequently and extensively, covering your mouth when sneezing and coughing with your arm and do not touch your face, eyes, nose or mouth.
New Jersey’s Largest, Most Comprehensive
Cancer Care Program
With more than 1,200 team members collaborating in a highly subspecialized and multidisciplinary environment, John Theurer Cancer Center, part of Hackensack University Medical Center, offers one of the most prominent cancer care programs nationwide.
It’s no surprise why more people turn to John Theurer Cancer Center for cancer treatment each year than to any other facility in New Jersey.
With CAR T-cell therapy, immune cells called T cells are:
- Removed from the patient through a process called “apheresis” (the separation of T cells from other components of the blood)
- Genetically modified, using a disarmed virus, to produce receptors on their surfaces called CARs, allowing the T cells to recognize and attach to certain targets on cancer cells
- Grown to larger quantities (hundreds of millions)
- Returned to the patient, where the CAR T cells can now find, bind to, and kill cancer cells
For more information please call 551-996-5931.
Teaming Up to Take on Cancer
John Theurer Cancer Center. Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Two strong institutions that share a passion and expertise for developing new therapies to improve outcomes for patients with cancer.Joining Forces
The largest clinical research team in New Jersey.Research at John Theurer Cancer Center
For More Information
Call us to speak with a member of our team.Call 551-996-5855
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