Coronavirus (COVID-19) and breast cancer
This page has information about coronavirus (COVID-19) for people with breast cancer and their families.
For general information on COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
For more information on COVID-19 for people with cancer, visit the American Society of Clinical Oncology website.
What is COVID-19?
A coronavirus causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019.
Most cases of COVID-19 are mild. However, some cases are severe and can lead to death.
For the latest information on COVID-19, visit the CDC website.
Am I at risk of getting COVID-19?
People who are older or who have other health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, are at greater risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.
If you have breast cancer and are being treated with chemotherapy or immunotherapy, or you have metastatic breast cancer, your immune system may be weakened. This means you have an increased risk of getting sick from COVID-19.
Rates of COVID-19 are not the same everywhere and can change rapidly. Local and state government safety guidelines vary and can change often. Check the CDC website, and your local and state public health department websites, for the latest information.
What are the signs and symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
These signs and symptoms tend to appear 2-14 days after exposure to COVID-19. However, a person may be contagious before symptoms appear.
If you have signs or symptoms, have been in contact with someone who’s been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have questions about testing for COVID-19, call your doctor.
For more information on the symptoms of COVID-19 and when to seek immediate medical attention for symptoms, visit the CDC website.
What can I do to protect myself and my family?
To slow the spread of COVID-19, the CDC recommends you:
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a household cleaning spray or wipe.
If you’re fully vaccinated, the CDC has loosened guidelines on some COVID-19 precautions, such as wearing a face mask.
If you’re not fully vaccinated, continue to wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth in public and keep at least 6 feet of space between yourself and others outside of your home.
For additional information about COVID-19 for people with cancer, visit the American Society of Clinical Oncology website.
What can I do to reduce stress?
This may still be a stressful time. To reduce stress, the CDC recommends:
- Taking breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories about COVID-19, including social media.
- Taking care of yourself. Try taking deep breaths, stretching or meditating. Try to eat healthy meals, get some exercise, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Making time to do things you enjoy, such as taking a walk, gardening, knitting, reading a book or cooking.
- Talking with others about your concerns and how you’re feeling. Call, FaceTime or Skype with family and friends.
Susan G. Komen® Support Resources
Find more support resources.
- National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). NCCN: Cancer and COVID-19 vaccination, version 1.0. https://www.nccn.org/covid-19/pdf/COVID-19_Vaccination_Guidance_V1.0.pdf, 2021.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 vaccines and allergic reactions. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/allergic-reaction.html, 2021.
- Society of Breast Imaging. SBI recommendations for the management of axillary adenopathy in patients with recent COVID-19 vaccination. https://www.sbi-online.org/Portals/0/Position%20Statements/2021/SBI-recommendations-for-managing-axillary-adenopathy-post-COVID-vaccination.pdf, 2021.
- National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). Recommendations of the NCCN COVID-19 Vaccination Advisory Committee. https://www.nccn.org/covid-19, 2021.
Updated August 19, 2021