COVID-19 and Breast Cancer
This page has information about coronavirus (COVID-19) for people with breast cancer, their loved ones and caregivers.
For more information on COVID-19 for people with cancer, visit the American Society of Clinical Oncology website.
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 people can become very sick. 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.
Although the CDC is continuing to monitor rates of COVID-19 in the United States, the federal COVID-19 public health emergency ended in May 2023.
Check the CDC website 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?
Possible 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. People may be contagious before symptoms appear.
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.
- Improve ventilation in indoor spaces and spend time outdoors when possible.
- 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 have suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
- Follow recommendations if you are exposed to COVID-19.
- Stay home for at least 5 days if you test positive for COVID-19, even if you don’t have symptoms.
- Seek treatment if you test positive for COVID-19 and are at high risk of getting very sick.
The CDC recommends people consider continuing to wear face masks and maintain social distancing in public in areas where COVID-19 hospital admission levels are medium or high. This is especially important for people at high risk of getting very sick, such as people who are getting chemotherapy.
For more general information and guidance, visit the CDC website.
What can I do to reduce stress?
At times you may feel stressed, which is normal. To reduce stress:
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to the news, including social media.
- Take 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.
- Make time to do things you enjoy, such as taking a walk, gardening or cooking.
- Talk with others about how you’re feeling.
Susan G. Komen® Support Resources
Find more support resources.
- National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). NCCN: Cancer and COVID-19 vaccination, version 7.0., 2022.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/stay-up-to-date.html, 2023.
- 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, 2022.
Updated August 8, 2023