We know that there is increased risk of serious complications for those who are over the age of 65, have underlying medical conditions or who have a compromised immune system. Anyone who is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer are considered part of this high-risk population. Our hope is that communities can come together, by staying apart, to help protect the most vulnerable.
Breast Cancer and COVID-19
As Canada responds to the global COVID-19 pandemic, some cancer centres have begun postponing scheduled breast cancer surgeries in preparation for an expected influx of COVID-19 patients. This has led some breast cancer patients to express concerns about delays in their surgical treatment and care.
The Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN) shares these concerns. “It is natural for patients to be concerned about delays to their treatment and to fear any progression of their cancer,” states Cathy Ammendolea, CBCN board Chair. "As someone who has had a personal, lived experience with this disease, I know first-hand the anxiety that accompanies any delay in your treatment plan.”
In these challenging times, cancer agencies are facing an unprecedented scenario that requires changes and reductions in access to care in order to contain this global health crisis. However, it remains imperative that health officials continue to proactively plan for how best to serve all patients - particularly vulnerable cancer patients. CBCN urges provincial governments and cancer agencies to ensure that cancer patients are being adequately informed of any delays to their surgical treatment and that there is a mechanism in place to appropriately address patients’ questions and concerns during this crisis.
The Canadian Breast Cancer Network remains committed to working with health authorities to ensure that the needs of breast cancer patients in Canada are being addressed.
Where can you find out more information about COVID-19 and cancer?
Here are some informative and credible resources:
The Canadian Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society
General COVID-19 information, as well as the latest updates can be found on the Public Health Agency of Canada website.
Should you have specific questions about your treatments and scheduled appointments, contact your cancer centre or health care team directly and they can provide you with specific information regarding the measures that are being taken at that centre.
If you think that you may have the COVID-19 virus, you can use this self-assessment tool. Links to the COVID-19 response from each province and territory, as well as their telehealth contact information, can be found here.
General COVID-19 Resources
Rolling updates on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from World Health Organization
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update from Public Health Canada
Cancer and COVID-19 Resources
Cancer and COVID19 (novel coronavirus) from Canadian Cancer Society
Common Questions About the New Coronavirus Outbreak from American Cancer Society
Advice on coronavirus for people with cancer from Breast Cancer Now
Mitigating the Spread of COVID-19 and Its Impact on Cancer from The ASCO Post
Breast Cancer and COVID-19 Resources
Coronavirus: What People With Breast Cancer Need to Know from BreastCancer.org
Canadian Society of Breast Imaging and Canadian Association of Radiologists released a statement regarding breast cancer screening amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of Breast Screening Programs across Canada are temporarily suspended to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. Click here for specific information for each province and territory. While screening mammography is largely suspended across Canada, diagnostic mammograms and other tests continue, although there are delays. If you notice a lump or other change in your breast, ask your doctor to refer you for a diagnostic mammogram.
Mental Health Resources
Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19 from Canadian Psychological Association
Psychological Impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) from Canadian Psychological Association
Managing Fears and Anxiety around the Coronavirus (COVID-19) from Harvard University Health Services
Managing Loneliness and Anxiety During This Time of Social Distancing from BreastCancer.Org
Caregiver Mental Health During COVID-19 Outbreak from the Ontario Caregiver Association
A COVID-19 section has been added to our Health StoryLines app to help you cope during this time. To access it, follow these steps:
Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan from Department of Finance Canada
Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses from Department of Finance Canada
How to apply for Canada's Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) from the Government of Canada
Apply for EI sickness benefits here.
Working From Home
Working from Home During COVID, With and Without Children from Canadian Psychological Association
How to care for a person with COVID-19 at home – Advice for caregivers from Public Health Canada
Sign a petition to protect healthcare providers working to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Response from Pharmaceutical Companies
COVID-19: working together on a solution from Innovative Medicines Canada
You can find updates on specific drug supply shortages here.