In the midst of the pandemic, the seasonal flu has been keeping a low profile. Mask wearing, social distancing, school closures, and the retreat of many workers to remote home locations, has helped to keep the flu at some of the lowest contact rates in decades. But it’s still out there.
This can be especially concerning for people who often mistake the symptoms of cancer for the flu. While it is rare for cancer to be inaccurately diagnosed as the flu, people have attributed some common symptoms of cancer to having the flu. Fatigue, fever, weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, and persistence cough are common symptoms of the flu. But they are also common symptoms of some cancers, especially blood related malignancies, such as lymphoma and leukemia.
With flu season upon us, there may be rare cases when patients who think they have the flu are later diagnosed with cancer.
If you have flu related symptoms there is no need to panic that it might be cancer. But it is a good idea to monitor your symptoms, and if these symptoms last longer than an average period, and don’t abate no matter what medicines you throw at it, it would not be a bad idea to schedule an appointment with your doctor.
It is important to note that cancer may increase the risk of cancer. Because of their weakened immune systems, patients undergoing cancer treatment may be at a higher risk for catching the flu. You can decrease the risk of catching the flu by following these practical steps.
- Get the flu vaccine. The American Cancer Society says flu vaccines are safe for cancer patients…but check with your doctor first.
- Make sure you family members are also vaccinated.
- Avoid crowds or wear a mask if you are going to be in a group setting.
- Wash your hands frequently.
If you think you may have been exposed to the flu, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. A doctor may choose to prescribe prophylactic antibiotics that may ease symptoms or prevent the flu from developing.