Coronavirus Travel Advice for Mesothelioma Patients

Airplane flying over palm trees

If you have a mesothelioma cancer diagnosis and are considering a vacation, keeping up with the news about emerging diseases, such as novel coronavirus, can be frightening.

Mesothelioma patients receiving chemotherapy are especially susceptible to disease. Chemotherapeutic agents, such as cisplatin, can suppress the immune system and increase the risk of contracting an illness.

However, preparing and equipping yourself with the right tools will allow you to travel with peace of mind.

Because each cancer patient is different, always talk with your physician when considering a trip. They may suggest special preparations or accommodations you will need before you go.

Should I Travel with Mesothelioma?

Traveling with mesothelioma, especially abroad, will be based on the conversation you have with your doctor and the current risks of your destination.

If you have scheduled treatment or medical procedures that overlap with your vacation, your physician may request that you postpone traveling.

When there is an international concern in the news over a new illness, such as novel coronavirus, knowing where and when to travel can make a world of difference.

The World Health Organization has reported nearly 90,000 worldwide cases of COVID-19, commonly known as the novel coronavirus. While the bulk of cases are in China, more than 2,000 cases have been reported in Europe. The majority of European cases were reported in Italy.

Officials also have confirmed 86 cases across the U.S. in Oregon, Illinois, New York, California, Arizona, Washington, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Florida and Texas. Two deaths from the disease were confirmed in Kirkland, Washington.

Knowing and finalizing the details of your trip well in advance can help your doctor give you the best advice and resources on whether traveling is recommended for your condition.

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Online Resources to Help You Prepare

  • CDC.gov: Contains traveler guides about current health issues, such as disease outbreaks, that impact travelers’ health and categorizes them by alert level.
  • Airnow.gov: Provides a map of air quality index data showing the level of pollution and risk for people with health concerns (an international guide is also available).
  • Be aware of your flight plan. If your flight includes a layover or transfer in a city that’s not one of your destinations, you’ll still be interacting with everyone in that airport. Include all potential cities you’ll be traveling through in your discussion with your doctor.

As you follow a disease outbreak in the news, check for travel restrictions, areas with additional screening and quarantine zones. Outbreaks can be unpredictable. Getting unexpectedly stuck in a city would defeat the purpose of a relaxing vacation.

Prepare Yourself to Fight Infections

Besides emerging disease outbreaks in the news, people with mesothelioma must also be prepared to fight infections, such as the flu and pneumonia, every day. Getting a flu shot is almost always recommended but speak with your oncology team first.

The best precautions to prevent disease are likely the ones you’re already taking:

  • Washing your hands
  • Avoiding crowds and individuals who appear sick
  • Getting vaccinated for influenza and pneumonia (if recommended by your doctor)
  • Maintaining healthy habits such as sleeping well, exercising regularly, and eating the right foods

Before traveling, make sure you pack the following:

  • All your medications, preferably in your carry-on bag

  • A doctor’s note explaining your medical condition and required medications

  • An emergency contact list with names and phone numbers, including your medical team
  • Snacks or meals for the flight or travel between destinations
  • Personal items and medical supplies for daily activities

Enjoying Your Vacation

The purpose of your vacation is likely to relax and enjoy yourself. After you’ve prepared for your trip, there are still some steps you can take to make sure you get the most out of your vacation.

Remember the risk of contracting foreign diseases is very low. If your doctor has cleared your trip and you’ve prepared adequately, then you should have peace of mind about your vacation.

Monitor your health during your trip. It’s important to track if you are able to care for yourself and complete your daily activities as you normally would.

Plan for long travel times between destinations and bring everything necessary for a long bus or car ride.

Be aware of any worsening symptoms and the distance from where you are staying. You may be able to manage symptoms while performing certain activities. If you become too fatigued for the day, be sure your travel companions can help you return to where you are staying.

Make sure that every destination and travel service you will be using during your trip can accommodate all your health requirements. It’s important to discuss these concerns with hotels, travel agencies, airlines and the destinations you intend to visit.

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Sean Marchese, MS, RN, author for The Mesothelioma Center

Oncology Medical Writer and Registered Nurse

Sean Marchese is a registered nurse and medical writer at The Mesothelioma Center. He has a background in respiratory and thoracic oncology clinical trials. Sean has assisted physicians with the development of chemotherapy and surgical planning for patients with head, neck and thoracic cancers. As a registered nurse, Sean has worked with cancer patients undergoing pain management therapies and patients with brain and nervous system cancers in an inpatient setting.

4 Cited Article Sources

The sources on all content featured in The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com include medical and scientific studies, peer-reviewed studies and other research documents from reputable organizations.

  1. Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. (2020, February 28). Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE.
    Retrieved from: https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6
  2. Mason, J. (2020, January 31). Cancer patients and the coronavirus: What you should know.
    Retrieved from: https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/cancerwise/cancer-patients-and-the-coronavirus--what-you-should-know.h00-159378789.html
  3. De Biasi, A. R., Villena-Vargas, J., & Adusumilli, P. S. (2014). Cisplatin-induced antitumor immunomodulation: a review of preclinical and clinical evidence.
    Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25204552/
  4. Rasmussen, L., & Arvin, A. (1982). Chemotherapy-induced immunosuppression.
    Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1568884/

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