Local cancer doctor talks about challenges patients face during coronavirus pandemic

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) -- For anyone with cancer, or any other health condition that impacts their immune system, the threat of coronavirus is especially frightening.

Dr. Halle Moore, Oncologist, Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute, spoke to FOX 8 News anchor Wayne Dawson on FOX 8 News in the Morning Monday.

Moore is the director of breast medical oncology in the department of hematology and oncology at the Institute.

"Most important for cancer patients it to understand if they are on treatments that might suppress their immune systems or whether they are at risk from the cancer itself to having a weakened immune system. Those that are need to be very vigilant with new symptoms or a fever and should immediately call their healthcare provider with such things," Moore explained.

She said for now, cancer patients should continue to receive their treatments.

"We are still open for business and we are still treating the cancer. Obviously we are very concerned about a potential surge [in hospital capacity] which is why the governor has been so proactive in trying to keep people at home and prevent people from getting sick all at once so we can maintain hospital capacity," she said.

Moore said it's not clear if cancer patients who are free of the disease are any more at risk from coronavirus than someone who has never had the disease.

"It really depends when that treatment was and what type of treatment that they had. People with a prior bone marrow transplant, for instance, may be at risk for long term. Others may be at not a significantly increased risk," she said.

"Those survivors can really help out by looking into how they can delay their visits to come in to see the doctors, perhaps transfer their visits to virtual visits -- sort of an online consultation with their physician -- to allow those patients who are most in need of coming in to be seen without exposure to a lot of other individuals," Moore said.

FOX 8 anchor Wayne Dawson asked Moore about family members of cancer patients. He mentioned his colleague Tracy McCool and her husband John's ongoing battle with the disease.

"So those individuals need to protect themselves as though their own immune systems were compromised and do everything they can to avoid exposure and help keep their loved ones safe," she said. "In fact, we all need to be thinking that way right now."

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