COVID-19 & You
Help for Skin Cancer Patients, Caregivers and Families
As the COVID-19 health crisis continues to unfold, we’ve heard from skin cancer patients who are concerned about the Coronavirus, and worried about canceled and postponed appointments or surgeries.
You are not alone. We have entered an unprecedented time for our health care system. COVID-19 precautions are necessary before some medical treatments can be instituted or resume, and some health care systems are overwhelmed.
What this means: You may experience temporary delays in getting help regarding your diagnosis or treatment as health care systems are devising new ways to meet the needs of all patient populations during this crisis. The American Academy of Dermatology has recommended that dermatologists reschedule all nonessential medical or surgical visits and, if possible, offer teledermatology services. As the crisis evolves, there will be more clarity as to what specifically constitutes urgent and/or essential dermatologic care.
What you can do: Be patient, but also proactive. If you have a medical emergency, you should still try to get in to see a dermatologist as soon as possible. If your dermatologist or oncologist is not currently seeing patients in the office or is extra busy due to COVID-19, see if your doctor offers any telemedicine options for non-emergencies.
In the meantime, find ways to relieve stress: try mindfulness, deep breathing, meditation, a good book, or speak with friends and family by phone or video chat. Above all, try to eat healthy and nutritious foods, exercise and get enough sleep.
Staying informed, asking questions and heeding the advice of medical professionals and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the best way to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
About teledermatology: Teledermatology is a rapidly developing subspecialty using the latest technology to allow patients better access to high-quality dermatologic care without traveling to the clinic. Here’s how you may be able to use teledermatology to help when it comes to skin cancer:
- Contact your dermatologist’s office to see if they offer teledermatology services.
- Take photos on your phone of anything new, changing or unusual on your skin and monitor it over time. There are even apps that will send you a monthly reminder to check on the spot to see if it has evolved.
- Share the photos with your dermatologist who can look them over virtually and provide advice over the phone. They will determine if you need to come into the office or not.
- If you’ve recently been treated for skin cancer, your dermatologist may be able to provide follow-up care over the phone or via video sessions.
Below is a list of additional resources and information about COVID-19 for patients and caregivers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I’m worried about going to my dermatologist because of the Coronavirus. What should I do?
(Answered in video)
Q: I’ve lost my health insurance. How will I pay for treatment if I become ill?
A: If you lost your job-based health coverage due to the COVID-19 pandemic or lost your health insurance due to a specified life change, you may be able to enroll for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as “Obamacare”) “special enrollment period.”
Visit https://www.healthcare.gov/ for more information on life changes that enable special enrollment.
Many states have free or low-cost options. Note that costs, effective dates and plans vary, so please check with the US Gov site or your state’s program for details.
If you are uninsured for any reason and your state has its own ACA program you may be able to get insurance regardless of why you do not have it, please check with your individual state exchange.
For more information about ACA coverage, check here: https://www.healthcare.gov/blog/coronavirus-marketplace-coverage/
To see whether your state offers Medicaid expansion, check here: https://www.healthinsurance.org/medicaid/
Q: Are skin cancer patients at greater risk for COVID-19?
A: Because the Coronavirus is new, physicians and scientists are still learning about COVID-19, including risk factors for developing severe illness. Older people and people with underlying health issues may be at higher risk for developing severe symptoms or complications. Patients receiving chemotherapy, immunotherapy or radiation therapy and patients recovering from surgery may have a weaker immune system and may also be at greater risk. If you are concerned about your risk, check the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for information on COVID-19: People Who Are at a Higher Risk of Severe Illness.
COVID-19 Resources for Patients
Below is a list of resources and information specific to COVID-19 and cancer patients.
American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
Cancer Support Communities (CSC)
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Journal
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
World Health Organization (WHO)
Last updated: June 2020