Coronavirus (COVID-19) and breast cancer
This page has information about coronavirus (COVID-19) for people with breast cancer, their loved ones and caregivers.
For general information on COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 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. Being up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, protects against severe illness from COVID-19 and limits the spread of the virus.
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.
Am I at risk of 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’re being treated for breast cancer, or have metastatic breast cancer, your immune system may be weakened. This means you have an increased risk of getting sick from COVID-19.
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 may 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.
The CDC has information about treatments your doctor may recommend if you get COVID-19.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a list of low-cost or free COVID-19 testing sites. Self-test kits (done at home) can also be helpful.
What can I do to protect myself, my loved ones and my caregivers?
To slow the spread of COVID-19, the CDC recommends you:
- Get vaccinated and stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines, including booster shots. They are available to people ages 6 months and older.
- Avoid crowded places and poorly-ventilated indoor spaces.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Follow recommendations if you are exposed to COVID-19.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Stay home for at least 5 days if you test positive for COVID-19, even if you don’t have symptoms.
- Monitor your health and be alert for symptoms.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommends people with cancer, as well as their families and caregivers, continue to wear face masks and maintain social distancing in public (even after getting vaccinated) .
For more general information and guidance, please visit the CDC 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 7.0. https://www.nccn.org/covid-19, 2022.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Allergic reactions after COVID-19 vaccination. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/allergic-reaction.html, 2022.
- Society of Breast Imaging. Revised SBI recommendations for the management of axillary adenopathy in patients with recent COVID-19 vaccination. https://www.sbi-online.org/Portals/0/Position-Statements/2022/SBI-recommendations-for-managing-axillary-adenopathy-post-COVID-vaccination_updatedFeb2022.pdf, 2022.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 vaccines for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/immuno.html, 2022.
Updated October 25, 2022