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Reduced immunity following cancer treatment


Re: Reduced immunity following cancer treatment

Hi Moggy and Fish Mum 

Thanks for posting. 

As far as we know the majority of people who have, or have had, breast cancer will not be at any higher risk of covid19 infection and so can follow the advice given for the rest of the population. This includes those on hormone therapy, or who have had radiotherapy to the breast and/or lymph nodes as part of their treatment. Having lymph nodes removed does not affect the overall ability of the immune system to fight infection.   

Immune system recovery is variable for people who have a lowered immunity due to cancer treatments.  Opinions differ depending on individual situations.  As you can see, Shi was told it would be up to six months for her recovery. As already mentioned, the treatments you have had would not be expected to lower the immune system. 

As adoptedmanc suggested your increased susceptibility to colds may be much the same as the population at large due to the lockdowns and the lack of viruses circulating for the past couple of years.  Many people continue to wear face coverings in shops and enclosed spaces and continue with good hand hygiene, which is something you may want to consider. 

You mention that you received an email from the NHS about you being at increased susceptibility for serious illness from COVID-19.  As you will see on the link, there are other health indicators in addition to specific cancer treatments that are considered in identifying people in this group.    People who are at highest risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 may be offered specific treatments if they test positive for COVID-19.   If you are unsure why you are in this group, your GP or treatment team may be able to say.   

You may be interested in our resources that are particularly for those who have come to the end of their main hospital treatment. These are known as our Moving forwardservices and include our Moving Forward resource pack.   

Our mobile app Becca also provides a range of information, support, tips and inspiration. The easy-to-use cards give you bite-size information on a variety of topics to help you move forward. You can also read personal stories from people like you who are adjusting to life beyond breast cancer treatment. 

Do call our Helpline if you would like to talk this through or have any further questions. Your call will be confidential, and the number is free from UK landlines and all mobile networks. The number is 0808 800 6000, (Relay UK - prefix 18001). 

If you would like a nurse to call you do complete this form. Ticking the box agreeing to a call back.   

Our opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am - 4pm and 9am - 1pm on Saturday. Out of hours you can leave a message and we will call you back when we next open.  

Best wishes  


Breast Care Nurse   

Please read the Ask Our Nurses disclaimer  Full details on how we collect and use your data can be found in our Privacy Policy    

This thread will now be closed from further replies. If you have any additional questions or would like to provide feedback, please start a new thread. 

Community Champion

Re: Reduced immunity following cancer treatment

Hello @Moggy and Fish Mum 

Like you I surgery and radiotherapy and I’m now on hormone therapy, I didn’t have chemotherapy. My understanding is that my immune system wasn’t necessarily suppressed by my treatment (although I too was sent the COVID test as part of the NHS scheme to help those that need it get treatment early) 

Clearly I’m not an immunologist(!) however I suspect that your increased susceptibility to colds is much the same as the population at large due to the lockdowns and the lack of viruses circulating for the past couple of years (anecdotally I’ve heard of quite a few fit healthy teenagers being floored with nasty flu/viruses which they wouldn’t normally be so affected by)  
Having said that, it isn’t going to do you any harm by being mindful of how infections are spread (it’s quite amazing how quickly people forget! My husband was appalled at being offered a handshake by someone who had just coughed into it 😳) and taking precautions in the way we were taught during COVID and if you want to wear a mask then by all means do, personally I don’t. 

AM xxx

Community Champion
Community Champion

Re: Reduced immunity following cancer treatment

moggy and fish mum ❤️ I was advised that it can be 6 months after finished treatments. But please do speak to a nurse on here and your team to check for you specifically ❤️ 💕💕Shi xx

Moggy and Fish Mum

Reduced immunity following cancer treatment

After diagnosis in March this year, I had two surgeries and a week’s radiotherapy on the area of my left breast in July. Since then, I have been taking Letrozole. My question is this: - can I expect my immune system to be depleted for months after the treatment? I was pretty robust prior to cancer (I am now 61) but have just come down with my second cold in six weeks which is almost unknown for me. I have received the E mail about increased susceptibility to Covid/free lateral flow tests and contacting the NHS if I test positive and chatting to a Macmillan nurse a couple of weeks ago, she told me that this was pretty much a “catch all” for the NHS to ensure that anyone even slightly vulnerable was included. I know colds are in no way life threatening, but it would be interesting to know how the average person’s immune system reacts to cancer treatment and how long for? I am not back to pre diagnosis energy levels - not unexpected - but if I should be protecting myself more by, say, wearing a face mask in shops, it would be useful to know. Many thanks.