Swine flu - is there any advice whilst on treatment???

I have recently finished chemotherapy and currently on radiotherapy. I normally go into an office to work but as there’s been a case of swine flu, so staff with weakened immune systems have been advised to work at home.

I just wondered if there’s been any specific advice that has been released from any source or from clinics - about bc patients’ potential risk if they catch the flu - and precautions to guard against doing so. For example, should we go to our GPs and ask for Tamiflu jab?

Thanks

bright

Hi Bright

I don’t know what the official advice is, but my son had a flu virus last week. I called the GP who said it may or not be swine flu, but they aren’t testing for it any more in healthy people and are just treating is as “normal” flu i.e. let it run its course unless you get very ill.

He advised me to contact my Oncologist to see if she wanted me to take tamiflu as a precaution, as I am 6/8 of way through my chemo. She didn’t advise me to take anything - just contact the hospital if I become unwell. I don’t know what the official protocol is, but certainly in Suffolk it seems to be of little interest.

Thanks for this Gennie…

I see that a healthy six year old girl has just died in London from the bug. Perhaps this may escalate local authorities’ concerns.

Bright

Hi, I’ve just had my 2nd out of 6 chemo’s and have still been teaching some of the time. We have had swine flu at school and i rang my onc team. They said not to panic but if I showed any symptoms to get tamiflu from my GP. Have since been to hospital and all was ok!
love Debs xxx

I’ve been advised to take Tamiflu if I have/develop any symptoms and the hospital would stop my chemo until I was fully recovered.
Was also advised to take up the swine flu jab when it becomes available along with the normal flu jab…and best to get an appointment at the end of a chemo cycle when your bloods have recovered.

I work in a dental hospital and have just attended an infection control course where Swine Flu was discussed. Basically, it is like all types of flu - can kill in some but for most will not be a problem. I think it would be absolutely impossible to isolate yourself from a flu virus completely, but take all the usual hygiene precautions such as frequent handwashing and try to stay away from crowded places, such as trains - I have just got home off the train and there was someone sneezing and coughing behind me all the journey. I did try to hold my breath!!! Tamiflu is not a preventive measure like a vaccination, but is an antiviral medicine used for reducing symptoms if you catch flu. There is going to be a vaccine out shortly and everyone who is high at risk will be offered it. I know it is serious stuff, but all flu is serious and we live with that year in year out.

Hi all,

After reading this thread I am going to pass it on to the nursing team and see if they have anything to add that may help you all.

Kind regards,
Jo, Facilitator

Thanks Jo,
I’d be greatful for this.
Bright

Hi all,

Below is the reply received from the nursing team regarding Swine flu.
Jo, Facilitator

Looking through the posts so far, it seems as if you have all been given very sensible advice about contacting your GP or hospital as soon as possible if you have any flu symptoms, as anti-viral treatments such as Tamiflu would be recommended for people who are having chemotherapy.

The nursing team posted some information about swine flu quite recently on the News blog section of our website, and I have included it below for your interest:

“Several people have contacted us at Breast Cancer Care worried about their risk of contracting swine flu while having chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. When having chemotherapy treatment the immune system can work less effectively meaning that there is an increased risk of catching any type of infection.

There has been no current advice from the Department of Health for the general population to avoid having treatments such as chemotherapy, due to the risk of infection from swine flu. However we would suggest that anyone worried about swine flu should discuss their concerns with their oncologist (cancer specialist) and chemotherapy team. They will be monitoring the situation closely and will be able to give the most up-to-date advice.

It is important when having chemotherapy that you seek medical advice, even outside of normal working hours if you have a raised temperature, sore throat, or begin to feel generally unwell, such as flu like symptoms.

You can read more information about chemotherapy here:

breastcancercare.org.uk/server/show/nav.335

You can also visit the online NHS information on swine flu which is regularly updated:

nhs.uk/conditions/pandemic-flu/Pages/Introduction.aspx

We are aware that the situation with swine flu has the potential to rapidly change, and our helpline team will be briefed on any changes that occur that might affect people having treatment for breast cancer, so please do feel free to contact our freephone helpline for more information. Alternatively you may wish to talk with your GP who will also be advised directly from the department of health of any developments relating to swine flu.

The freephone number is 0808 800 6000 (for Typetalk prefix 18001), Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and Saturday 9am to 2pm”

You may also find it interesting to note that the NHS link above includes information about high risk groups (such as people on chemotherapy). It outlines how doctors may advise some high risk patients to take antivirals before they have symptoms if someone close to them has swine flu. Also, when a vaccine becomes available at risk groups will be a priority. For more information please click on the NHS link above.

Kind regards
Information nurse