(0)
0 Items £0.00
 

Title

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and cervical cancer

This page has information about coronavirus (COVID-19) for people who have or have had cervical cancer. We know that this may be an especially anxious time if you have cervical cancer or are supporting a loved one with cervical cancer. If you would prefer to speak with someone, call our free Helpline on 0808 802 8000.

Please remember this information does not replace advice from your healthcare team. 

Use the links below to jump to the section you need:

Shielding, self-isolation and staying alert

On this page, we use terms introduced by the UK government to describe the measures that everyone needs to follow:

  • Shielding. You should practice shielding if you are ‘extremely vulnerable’ – at higher risk of becoming seriously ill with coronavirus. If you are in this group, you should receive a letter from the government advising you to stay at home and avoid face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks. Visit the GOV.uk website to read this guidance >
  • Self-isolating. If you have coronavirus symptoms or live with someone who does, you should self-isolate. Self-isolating means staying at home and avoiding face-to-face contact for 7 or 14 days. Visit the GOV.uk website to read this guidance >
  • Staying alert. If you are not shielding or self-isolating, you should be staying at home as much as possible. If you go out, you must keep at least 2 metres away from other people. Visit the GOV.uk website to read this guidance >

Coronavirus

Coronavirus is a virus that causes an illness called COVID-19. It can affect your lungs and airways (respiratory system). Most people won’t become seriously ill with the virus, but it can cause serious complications for some people.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a new, persistent cough
  • a high temperature (fever)
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

Read more about symptoms on the NHS website >

What should I do if I think I have coronavirus?

If you have been in contact with someone with coronavirus, or if you have the symptoms listed above, you should begin self-isolating:

  • If you live alone, you should self-isolate for 7 days. 
  • If you live with other people, everyone in the household should self-isolate for 14 days. 

If you have cervical cancer and think you have coronavirus, you must contact your healthcare team at the hospital straight away. They will be able to give you advice specific to your situation.

If you can't reach your healthcare team, use the following online services:

Only call 111 if you cannot find answers or get help online. If you do call, make sure you tell them about your cervical cancer diagnosis and any treatment you are having.

Back to top of page >

Chemotherapy and coronavirus

If you are currently having chemotherapy, you are at high risk of becoming seriously ill with coronavirus. You should follow the advice to shield. 

How does chemotherapy affect my risk of coronavirus?

Chemotherapy can stop the bone marrow from making enough white blood cells. White blood cells are part of your immune system. This is the system that gets rid of illness and infection caused by viruses like coronavirus. A weaker immune system means it may be less able to get rid of coronavirus.

What should I do to reduce my risk?

You should practice shielding if you are currently having chemotherapy. Shielding means you must stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks. 

If you can, ask family or friends to get food and other essentials, like medicines, for you. You can also use online delivery services. If you don’t have a support network nearby, the government is offering assistance. 

Visit the GOV.uk website >

You may have received a letter from the government advising you about shielding. If you think you should have received a letter but haven’t, contact your healthcare team and ask them about any concerns.  

If you live with other people

If you live with other people, it may be more difficult to avoid face-to-face contact with them. However, it is important that you and they support you in shielding as much as possible. Some steps to take are:

  • Keeping at least 2 metres (about 3 steps) away from other people. 
  • If you have a partner, consider sleeping in a different bed if you are able. 
  • Everyone should try to spend less time in shared spaces and make sure all spaces are thoroughly cleaned.

Visit the GOV.uk website for full guidance >

We know shielding may be hard, especially when you are already coping with a cervical cancer diagnosis. We’ve put together some resources to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing, as well as signposting to helpful tools from other charities.

Visit our hub >

We also have information about how a cervical cancer diagnosis can impact mental health, along with ways to manage. Not all of the tips will apply to shielding, but some may be helpful.

Read our cervical cancer and mental health information >

Remember that our services are here to support you too. If you need a chat while you are at home, give our free Helpline a call on 0808 802 8000.

Should I still go to chemotherapy appointments?

You may attend chemotherapy appointments at the hospital. It is important to follow the advice of your healthcare team and keep going to these appointments unless they have told you not to go. 

Your healthcare team would not ask you to continue coming to the hospital unless it was the best thing for your health. If you are worried about attending your appointments, speak with your healthcare team. They will be able to talk you through what is happening with your treatment and why. You can also ask them about any extra steps you or the hospital can take to reduce your risk.

Will my chemotherapy treatment be changed or delayed?

Your healthcare team may want to limit the amount of time you spend at the hospital. They may suggest:

  • delaying your treatment
  • changing how often you have treatment – so you visit the hospital less 
  • changing to oral chemotherapy – tablets that can be taken at home
  • changing to a different treatment.

These decisions are being made to keep you as well as possible, while also protecting you against coronavirus. If your risk of becoming seriously ill with coronavirus is greater than your risk if treatment is delayed, your healthcare team may decide it is safer for you not to come to hospital for treatment.  

You should be kept informed about any options that are being considered, so you have a full understanding of the situation and can give consent. If you are worried, speak to your healthcare team. It may help to prepare some questions before the call. We have a list of suggested questions in our blog about the impact of coronavirus on people having treatment.

Read our blog >

If possible, it may be useful to have someone else on the call with you, so they can listen, take notes or help with any questions.

We know that having treatment delayed or changed, or the possibility of that happening, is distressing and we want you to know that we are here for you during this difficult time. Our services, including our free Helpline on 0808 802 8000, are open and ready to support you.

What is my risk if I have previously had chemotherapy?

If you previously had chemotherapy, your immune system should have built back up and be more able to get rid of the virus. This means you are considered less at risk and do not have to practice shielding. Instead, you should stay at home as much as possible or self-isolate if you or someone in the household has coronavirus symptoms. 

In previous government guidance, people who had chemotherapy in the last 3 months were included as higher risk. However, as the guidance has been redefined and different measures have been put into place, those people are no longer considered to have the greatest clinical risk. 

If you are worried, it is best to speak with your healthcare team to get advice specific to your situation. If you cannot contact your healthcare team, try to get in touch with your GP by phone. You can also choose to practice shielding if it would make you feel safer.

Back to top of page >

Radiotherapy, brachytherapy and coronavirus

If you are currently having radiotherapy or brachytherapy, the treatment alone does not put you at high risk of becoming seriously ill with coronavirus. But you must stay at home as much as possible and follow specific advice from your healthcare team.

How does radiotherapy or brachytherapy affect my risk of coronavirus?

Radiotherapy and brachytherapy usually don’t have a big impact on the immune system. If you have recently had radiotherapy or brachytherapy and aren’t feeling completely back to normal, remember that everyone needs time to recover and heals at a different pace. If you are worried, speak with your healthcare team.

What should I do to reduce my risk?

You should follow the government advice to stay alert and at home as much as possible, unless your healthcare team have advised you differently. If you do leave the house, you must stay at least 2 metres away from other people. If you are worried about this, you could ask friends or family to get food or collect medicines for you, then drop them outside your door. 

If you have symptoms of coronavirus or you have been in contact with someone who does, you should follow the government advice to self-isolate.

Should I still go to radiotherapy or brachytherapy appointments?

You may attend radiotherapy or brachytherapy appointments at the hospital. It is important to follow the advice of your healthcare team and keep going to these appointments unless they have told you not to go. 

Your healthcare team would not ask you to continue coming to the hospital unless it was the best thing for your health. If you are worried about attending your appointments, speak with your healthcare team. They will be able to talk you through what is happening with your treatment and why. You can also ask them about any extra steps you or the hospital can take to reduce your risk.

Will my radiotherapy or brachytherapy treatment be changed or delayed?

Your healthcare team will talk to you about any changes or delays to your treatment. Before making any decisions, they will look at your risk if treatment is delayed and your risk of being exposed to coronavirus in the hospital. Some treatments may also be delayed because of pressure on the NHS. 

If your treatment continues as planned, your healthcare team may want to limit the amount of time you spend at the hospital. They may ask you to wait elsewhere and text you when it is time for your treatment to start. They will also ask you to come to appointments on your own, to lower the risk of spreading coronavirus. 

If you are worried, speak to your healthcare team. It may help to prepare some questions before the call. We have a list of suggested questions in our blog about the impact of coronavirus on people having treatment.

Read our blog >

If possible, it may be useful to have someone else on the call with you, so they can listen, take notes or help with any questions.

We know that having treatment delayed or changed, or the possibility of that happening, is distressing and we want you to know that we are here for you during this difficult time. Our services, including our free Helpline on 0808 802 8000, are open and ready to support you.

What is my risk if I had previously had radiotherapy or brachytherapy?

If you previously had radiotherapy or brachytherapy, you are not considered at high risk and do not have to practice shielding. Instead, you should stay at alert and at home as much as possible, or self-isolate if you or someone in the household has coronavirus symptoms. 

If you are worried, it is best to speak with your healthcare team to get advice specific to your situation. If you cannot contact your healthcare team, try to get in touch with your GP by phone. You can also choose to practice shielding if it would make you feel safer.

Back to top of page >

Surgery and coronavirus

If you have recently had surgery or are due to have it, the treatment alone does not put you at high risk of becoming seriously ill with coronavirus. But you must stay at home as much as possible and should follow specific advice from your healthcare team.

In this information, surgery includes LLETZ, cone biopsy, trachelectomy, hysterectomy, pelvic exenteration and any lymph node removal. 

How does surgery affect my risk of coronavirus?

Surgery itself doesn’t usually have a big impact on the immune system, but you are more likely to pick up infections while you recover. Because you would have the surgery in hospital, and possibly stay there to recover, your healthcare team will keep you updated about any risk and take steps to protect you.

If you have recently had surgery and aren’t feeling completely back to normal, remember that everyone needs time to recover and heals at a different pace. If you are worried, speak with your healthcare team. 

What should I do to reduce my risk?

You should stay alert and at home as much as possible, and follow specific advice from your healthcare team if you have recently had or are due to have surgery. If you do leave the house, you must stay at least 2 metres away from other people. If you are worried about this, you could ask friends or family to food shop or collect medicines for you, then drop them outside your door.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus or you have been in contact with someone who does, you should let your healthcare team know and follow the government advice to self-isolate.

Will my surgery still happen?

Your healthcare team will talk to you about any changes or delays to your treatment. Before making any decisions, they will look at your risk if treatment is delayed and your risk of being exposed to coronavirus in the hospital. Some treatments may also be delayed because of pressure on the NHS. 

If your treatment continues as planned, your healthcare team will also ask you to come to the hospital on your own and not to have visitors while you are there, to lower the risk of spreading coronavirus.

If you are worried, speak to your healthcare team. It may help to prepare some questions before the call. We have a list of suggested questions in our blog about the impact of coronavirus on people having treatment.

Read our blog >

If possible, it may be useful to have someone else on the call with you, so they can listen, take notes or help with any questions.

We know that having treatment delayed or changed, or the possibility of that happening, is distressing and we want you to know that we are here for you during this difficult time. Our services, including our free Helpline on 0808 802 8000, are open and ready to support you.

Back to top of page >

Clinical trials and coronavirus 

Many clinical trials have been stopped or adapted due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is because of pressure on the NHS, as well as the risk of taking part in clinical trials. 

If your clinical trial adapts, they may move to doing things remotely. For example, you may be asked to have follow up appointments remotely or to pick up medicines in locations away from the hospital. Speak with your healthcare team to find out what is happening with your clinical trial.

If your clinical trial is testing a chemotherapy or immunotherapy treatment, you are considered at higher risk of coronavirus. Your healthcare team will take this into account when deciding when to continue the trial. If you unsure what to do, speak with them and practice shielding as advised by the UK government. 

We know that having a clinical trial stopped, or the possibility of that happening, is distressing and we want you to know that we are here for you during this difficult time. Our services, including our free Helpline on 0808 802 8000, are open and ready to support you.

Back to top of page >

Fertility and coronavirus

If you are currently having fertility treatment or pursuing alternative ways to have a child, the coronavirus pandemic may have caused further difficulty at an already stressful time. We hope the information in this section helps, but if you would prefer to speak with someone or need emotional support, please call us on 0808 802 8000.

Fertility treatment and coronavirus

From May 11, fertility clinics can apply to reopen and being treatments. Clinics must have safety measures in place to protect your health and that of its staff. You can contact your clinic to check whether they are open. 

Read the latest updates >

Adoption and coronavirus

If you are in the process of adopting, it is best to speak with your adoption agency. Decisions on whether to pause or proceed with adoptions are currently being made on a case-by-case basis, so your agency will be able to advise what is happening with your case and what, if anything, you need to do. 

If you have adopted and are worried about what the coronavirus pandemic means for your family, Adoption UK have lots of helpful guidance on their website. You can also give us a call for emotional support on 0808 802 8000.

Read more at Adoption UK >

Surrogacy and coronavirus

If you currently planning or have progressed with surrogacy, it is best to contact your healthcare or midwifery team. They will be able to give advice specific to your situation. You may know that pregnant women are considered extremely vulnerable to coronavirus, which will understandably be worrying, but you can support surrogates to practice shielding. Surrogacy UK have more information on their website that you might find helpful. You can also give us a call for emotional support on 0808 802 8000.

Read more at Surrogacy UK >

Back to top of page >

Menopause, HRT and coronavirus

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) should not be impacted by coronavirus in a big way. If you have questions that aren’t answered in this section, Women’s Health Concern run an email advice service that may be able to help.

Visit Women’s Health Concern >

If you are currently on HRT

You may be used to having HRT check-up appointment to see how you are responding to the medication. Most appointments are being postponed so you can follow the government advice to stay at home. However, if you are having problems with your HRT, it is important to contact your GP surgery and let them know.

Although you should be able to request repeat HRT prescriptions as you usually would, try to leave plenty of time for your order to be processed as it may take longer. If you do not have a repeat prescription, call your GP surgery and ask for one. 

If you are waiting for HRT or are changing your HRT

If you are waiting for an HRT prescription, or are changing to a different type of HRT, you may experience more of a delay because your GP would usually see you for an appointment. If you are unsure what is happening with your HRT, it is best to call your GP surgery and ask. They will be able to explain what is happening with your medication and why.  

Some NHS menopause clinics are running a telephone service instead of seeing patients in person. If yours isn’t and you choose to use a private provider, make sure they are registered with the British Menopause Society. 

Visit the British Menopause Society website >

Common questions

In this section we answer some of the most common questions we get about cervical cancer and coronavirus. If you don’t see your question, our support services may be able to help. Call our free Helpline on 0808 802 8000 or use our Ask the Expert service.

Get support >

We know it can be worrying when you notice unusual symptoms, and that it may be especially concerning at the moment. If you have symptoms, you should ring your GP surgery and ask for a phone appointment.

Your GP will assess you over the phone to help decide the next steps. They may ask about your medical history to try to figure out what is causing the symptoms. Once they know more about your individual situation, they will decide whether they need to see you at a face-to-face appointment to do a further examination. 

At the moment, the aim is to protect you and health workers from coronavirus, so your GP may decide that you do not need a face-to-face appointment. It is important to remember that cervical cancer is rare, so the likelihood that your symptoms are caused by cervical cancer is low. 

Read more about cervical cancer symptoms >

The current evidence does not suggest that you are at higher risk of getting or becoming seriously ill with coronavirus solely because you have or have had cervical cancer. These treatments should not increase your risk either:

  • Recent or past surgery, including lymph node removal.
  • Current or past radiotherapy or brachytherapy (internal radiotherapy). 
  • Past chemotherapy.

If you have had these treatments, it is still important you follow the government advice to stay alert and at home as much as possible.

Find out what you need to do during the coronavirus pandemic >

If you are currently having chemotherapy for cervical cancer, you are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill with coronavirus. You are part of a group the government call ‘extremely vulnerable people’ and should practice shielding. We have more detailed information about chemotherapy and coronavirus higher up this page.

The overarching NHS message is that cancer treatments are still a priority and will continue unless there is no other alternative. There may come a time when it will become necessary to start prioritising patients for hospital treatment.

We know that some regions and hospitals are already having to make these difficult decisions, so it is possible your treatment will be delayed. This decision may be taken if the risk of you being at hospital or continuing with treatment and potentially being exposed to coronavirus is greater than your risk if treatment is delayed. At the moment, the main priority is keeping you and health workers safe and well. 

If you have questions about your treatment, whether you should go to the hospital or anything else, it is best to speak with your healthcare team over the phone. Your healthcare team will be able to advise on your individual circumstance.

We know none of this is easy and that it may feel overwhelming. We are here to support you in any way that we can during this difficult time, so our free Helpline is still open. We may not have all the answers but we can listen – give us a call on 0808 802 8000.

The current evidence does not suggest that you are at higher risk of getting or becoming seriously ill with coronavirus if you have lymphoedema caused by cervical cancer treatment. 

You may be worried because lymphoedema affects the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system. The COVID-19 strain of coronavirus affects the lungs and airways (respiratory system), so you should not become seriously ill solely because you have lymphedema that affects the limbs or pelvis. 

However, it is still important to follow the government advice that is relevant to you – whether that is staying alert and at home as much as possible, self-isolating or shielding. If you are unsure which advice to follow, it is best to speak with your healthcare team. 

Read the Lymphoedema Support Network’s information >

The current evidence does not suggest that you are at higher risk of getting or becoming seriously ill with coronavirus if you have PRD. However, it is still important to follow the government advice that is relevant to you – whether that is staying at home, self-isolating or shielding. If you are unsure which advice to follow, it is best to speak with your healthcare team.

How we can help

We know that this is an uncertain time, with delays to appointments and treatment causing a lot of anxiety. We have created an online hub with content about coronavirus and how it may impact your life, as well as ways to manage that impact.

Visit our hub >

Our hub also has other useful resources about coronavirus, including guidance from the UK government and charities that can support you with different conditions. 

Getting support

Remember, we are here to support you and our services are still open if you want to talk through anything or simply have someone listen to your concerns on 0808 802 8000

Check our Helpline opening hours >

We also have a welcoming community in our online Forum, where you can get and give support. There are a few conversations about coronavirus, so you can choose to read existing threads or post your own messages. 

Join our Forum >

If you have general questions about cervical cancer, our Ask the Expert service may be able to help. Submit your question confidentially to our panel of experts and get a tailored reply. 

Use our Ask the Expert service >

Thank you to all the experts and service users who have contributed to this information. 

References

For more information about the references we used, please contact [email protected]

One Cancer Voice

Jo’s is part of the One Cancer Voice group of charities who have produced FAQs about Coronavirus for people with cancer.

Read advice and FAQs

Call our helpline

If you have questions or need to talk, call our helpline for information or support.

View opening times
Date last updated: 
18 May 2020
Date due for review: 
15 May 2021

Have a question? Need to talk?

Our helpline is currently closed, find out when it’s next open.

Or submit your question via our Ask the Expert online service