Facts about COVID-19

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While COVID-19 has created challenges, everyone at Memorial Sloan Kettering is working together to provide you with the best cancer care.

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This information answers some frequently asked questions about how COVID-19 may affect you, your health, and your cancer care. This information was last updated May 26, 2020.

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What is the coronavirus?

There are many types of coronaviruses. The type of coronavirus at the center of this outbreak is a new virus, called SARS-CoV-2, that causes the disease COVID-19. The disease can cause mild to severe respiratory (breathing) problems, which can be serious, especially in older people and people with other health problems, including cancer.

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How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 spreads from person to person through droplets when a person with it coughs or sneezes close to another person, like the way the common cold or flu spreads.

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What are the signs of COVID-19?

COVID-19 causes cold or flu-like symptoms. These may include fever, cough, breathing problems, body aches, and chills. Some people also report the loss of a sense of taste or smell, headache, fatigue, and diarrhea.

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Are there special concerns for people with cancer?

People with cancer often have weakened immune systems. Having a weak immune system makes it harder for the body to fight off diseases. If you have cancer, it’s important for you and your family members to closely follow steps to protect yourself, especially when it comes to frequent handwashing. We recommend you speak with your healthcare provider if you have concerns about your risk for COVID-19 being higher as a result of current or past cancer treatment.

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How do I stay up to date on the latest developments about COVID-19?

Check this page often for the latest updates from MSK. You can also get answers to more frequently asked questions or learn more by visiting the pages of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov) and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (www1.nyc.gov) websites.

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