We understand that people with cancer are worried about coronavirus. Here is the latest guidance. We will update it regularly.

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Covid 19 am I in the underlying health conditions group?

Posted by


I finished chemotherapy and radiotherapy for stage 2b head and neck cancer (unknown primary) in August 2017. I am a senior school teacher and really worried about being around so many people. I have limited saliva and if I get anything throat / chest related it is pretty bad. 

With other staff being off, my contact with pupils is just going up. I've asked to be allowed reduced contact e.g no lunchtime duties  so I could just focus on teaching but the school won't allow it unless I have confirmation from a doctor.  They don't really offer any reasonable adjustments  anyway! I don't want to bother my GP if I am not counted as having 'underlying health conditions'. 

So does a history of chemo/radiotherapy count or do you need to be actively recieving treatment? 



Linda - Macmillan
Posted by

Hi Plymouthgirl74

Thanks for your post. It’s natural to have questions over how this might impact on you given your recent treatment.

If we follow the guidelines from the UK Government there are a number of conditions that influence the risk of how unwell someone may be if the contract the virus. For people on active treatment, having chemotherapy or radiotherapy just now, the risk has been defined as high. For people who have had recent treatment or have other significant conditions (that require an annual flu injection) the risk is regarded as increased compared to that of the general public.

The recommendation is that we all follow social distancing practices, and that those at increased or higher risk take a more stringent approach.

For most people it can take a few weeks for bloods to recover in between chemotherapy treatments. This why a lot of treatments are given over a 3-week period, to allow this to happen. Some people may take longer than others. It does depend on each individual’s response.

Bone marrow usually recovers within about 6 weeks of your treatment finishing, but it can take longer, particularly after stronger chemotherapy regimens (combinations of drugs). Your immune system might be lower than usual for several months after cancer treatment. Because of this, without knowing more about your recovery, it would be hard for us to be more specific.

As you will see it has been announced that schools are to be shut in Wales and Scotland by Friday so it’s worth keeping an eye out on for information about England.

In the meantime, if you have one, it’s worth contacting your local occupational health team for advice.

I hope this helps and if you have other questions don’t hesitate to contact us

Best wishes, Linda (Cancer Information Nurse)