Cancer can Increase Flu-complication Risk in Patients

By  , Agency News
Dec 30, 2013

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Cancer can put you at an increased risk of serious flu-related complications- an expert says. People with cancer should get themselves vaccinated at priority this winter.

disadvantages of cancer"The flu shot is recommended annually for cancer patients, as it is the most effective way to prevent influenza and its complications," Dr. Mollie deShazo, an associate professor of medicine in the division of hematology and oncology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in a news release. "The flu vaccine significantly lowers the risk of acquiring the flu. It is not 100 percent effective, but it is the best tool we have."

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some examples of flu-related complications are pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infection, and ear infections. It is recommended that anyone who has not done so already get a flu shot, deShazo said.

In US, the predominant strain of flu so far has been H1N1 "swine" flu, which triggered the pandemic flu in 2009, federal health officials said Thursday.

"It takes up to two weeks to build immunity after a flu shot, but you can benefit even if you get the vaccine after the flu has arrived in your community," deShazo said. She noted, however, that cancer patients should receive the flu shot, not the flu mist.

"Patients with cancer or who are undergoing chemotherapy should not get the flu mist because it contains live flu virus and could lead to complications in patients (with compromised immune systems)," deShazo said.

Along with getting a flu-shot, cancer patients can practice some measures to protect themselves against flu. deShazo suggest:

  • Avoiding contact with anyone who might have the flu.
  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Requesting that family members and caregivers also receive the flu shot.

The risk of flu-related complications decreases once it's determined that patients are cancer-free, deShazo said.

"The longer patients are cancer-free, the lower their influenza complication risk, until it is no more than the risk of those who've never had the disease," she said.


Source: HealthDay Reporter.


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