Ovarian cancer and COVID-19 (coronavirus): advice for patients

Information for patients who are currently receiving treatment for ovarian cancer

Due to the current outbreak of COVID-19, ovarian cancer patients need to follow special advice to stay healthy. The NHS is now contacting patients that are considered to be most at risk of severe illness if they catch Coronavirus (COVID-19). Many ovarian cancer patients will be considered to be most at risk.

Who is most at risk?

  • Ovarian cancer patients who are currently having chemotherapy, or have had chemotherapy in the last 3 months.
  • Ovarian cancer patients who are currently having treatment where they are taking a PARP inhibitor (Olaparib, Niraparib, and Rucaparib).
  • Ovarian cancer patients who are having immunotherapy or any treatment that affects their immune system.

What do I need to do?

You should stay at home at all times and avoid all face-to-face contact for at least twelve weeks from today (21st March 2020), except carers and healthcare workers who you must see as part of your medical care. This will protect you by stopping you from coming into contact with the virus. 

This means you should:

  • Strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Not leave your home
  • Not attend any gatherings. This includes gatherings of friends and families in private spaces e.g. family homes, weddings and religious services
  • Not go out for shopping, leisure or travel. When arranging food or medication deliveries, these should be left at the door to minimise contact 
  • Keep in touch with family and friends using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
  • Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services 
  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Ask carers or support workers who visit your home to do the same.

Discuss your day to day needs during this period of staying at home with carers, family, friends, neighbours or local community groups to see how they can support you. If you do not have anyone who can help you, please visit click here.

We understand this will be an incredibly frustrating and difficult time for many of you, especially those who feel well. Your emotions will probably range from anxious to downright bored. Your mental health will be just as important as your physical health in these next few weeks. For those of you on our mailing list, we will be sharing content to keep you informed, entertained and engaged over these coming weeks, but if there’s anything in particular you’d like to see from us, tell us on info@ovarian.org.uk. If you aren’t on our mailing list but would like to be added, sign up at the bottom of the page.

What do I do if I have symptoms?

If, at any point, you think you have developed symptoms of coronavirus, such as a new, continuous cough and/or high temperature (above 37.8 °C), seek clinical advice using the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you do not have access to the internet, call NHS 111. Make sure you mention that you are an ovarian cancer patient who has been considered to be at risk. Do this as soon as you get symptoms.

What should I do about work?

Your letter is evidence, for your employer, to show that you cannot work outside the home. You do not need to get a fit note from your GP. You can continue to work from home if you feel able to.

What about my treatment?

The government is helping pharmacies to deliver prescriptions which will continue to cover the same length of time as usual. If you do not currently have your prescriptions collected or delivered, you can arrange this by:

1. Asking someone who can pick up your prescription from the local pharmacy, (this is the best option, if possible);

2. Contacting your pharmacy to ask them to help you find a volunteer (who will have been ID checked) or deliver it to you.

You may also need to arrange for collection or delivery of hospital specialist medication that is prescribed to you by your hospital care team.

Your hospital will be reviewing any ongoing care that you have with them. It is possible that some clinics and appointments will be cancelled or postponed, but you will be contacted if any changes need to be made to your care or treatment. Otherwise, you should assume your care or treatment is taking place as planned. Please contact your hospital or clinic directly if you have any questions about a specific appointment.

As pressures increase on the NHS, and Intensive Care Units in particular, your oncologist may discuss changes to your treatment plan with you. They will work with you to determine the best course of action in each individual situation. If you have any concerns or questions about your treatment, please speak to your clinical team.

If you have an urgent medical question relating to your ovarian cancer please contact your specialist hospital care team, directly. Where possible, you will be supported by phone or online. If your clinician decides you need to be seen in person, the NHS will contact you to arrange a visit in your home, or where necessary, treatment in hospital.

I haven't received a letter but think I should have

If you think you should have received a letter but haven’t by the 30th March, please contact your GP or hospital team.

If you have a question that hasn’t been answered, have a look at our wider Coronavirus FAQs and if we still haven’t covered it please email us at info@ovarian.org.uk - we may not know the answer straight away, but we will do our best to find out.

Government guidance is regularly being updated. Sign up here to be kept up to date with the latest government advice, information and advice from experts, and tips on your wellbeing during this uncertain time.