DES MOINES, Iowa — Breast Cancer Awareness Month starts October 1 and many current patients may be wondering if they can be vaccinated against COVID-19 while going through treatment.
Fortunately, there's some optimistic news for cancer patients; COVID shots are both safe and effective for them!
Cancer patients as a whole are more likely to have a severe case of COVID if they catch it. There are a couple of reasons for this, as Dr. Robert Behrens, a medical oncologist, explained.
"If they have a lot of cancer, you know, they might have organ dysfunction, or other severe problems. Some of it is cancer might affect the immune system itself and make it not as robust as it usually is," Behrens said.
A study published in the journal "Cancer Today" looked at 154 cancer patients who had received the COVID vaccine and compared them to vaccinated patients without cancer. Researchers found similar antibody counts in both groups, meaning they both had the same amount of immunity.
That's why Behrens is one of many doctors recommending his patients get the vaccine.
"It is approved for cancer patients, whether they're ongoing treatment or not ongoing treatment, it's something that they should talk with their medical oncologist, or their health care providers to talk about timing, when's the best time to get it," he said.
Although it's been said plenty of times before, the COVID vaccine has been proven safe and effective while being tested in real people, and doctors want concerned patients to know that.
"Hopefully that's enough to convince somebody that, you know, hey, if I get this vaccine, it's going to improve my odds, it's going to improve my odds that I'm going to get through COVID, not get COVID instead of taking a chance of getting COVID," Behrens said.
Behrens told Local 5 that he would also encourage patients to look into getting a COVID booster shot. Under CDC guidelines, having an underlying condition, such as cancer, is one of the requirements for getting one.