- Cancer Information
- Practical concerns
- Cancer, work and you
- For workers
- Coping with side effects
- Increased risk of infections
Increased risk of infections
Some cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, may increase your risk of getting an infection. Colds and flu passing around the office may be easier to catch and harder to shake off, and scratches or cuts may get infected more easily. It is important to stay away from people who are unwell.
Tips for lowering your risk of infection
- Let other staff know that you are more likely to get infections. Your employer can remind staff to stay at home when they are sick.
- If you work in an open plan area, move to an office or an isolated desk during treatment and recovery.
- Work in a well-ventilated space, if possible.
- Keep your workspace clean, especially if you share a desk. Wipe down your phone, keyboard, desk and mouse regularly. If you use a company car, clean the steering wheel, handles and radio console.
- Prepare and store food properly to avoid foodborne illness and food poisoning.
- Arrange to have video or teleconferences instead of face-to-face meetings. Work from home if you can.
- Check with your doctor about having the flu vaccine.
- If possible, take time off if you work in hospitality, health care or child care, particularly if your immunity is lowered (e.g. low white blood cell count).
- Wash your hands before eating and drinking, and after taking public transport and using the toilet.
- Clean and cover any wounds or injuries that occur at work to prevent infection. Report the incident to your human resources department for work health and safety reasons.
Cancer Australia has up-to-date information on COVID-19 vaccines for people affected by cancer.
Podcast: Coping with a Cancer Diagnosis
Kerryann White, Manager, People and Culture, Cancer Council SA; Nicola Martin, Principal, McCabe Curwood, NSW; Jane Auchettl, Coordinator, Education and Training Programs, Cancer Council Victoria; Craig Brewer, Consumer; Alana Cochrane, Human Resources Business Partner, Greater Bank Newcastle, NSW; Shona Gates, Senior Social Worker, North West Cancer Centre, North West Regional Hospital, TAS; Dianne Head, Cancer Nurse Coordinator, Metastatic Breast Cancer, Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre Westmead, NSW; Alex Kelly, Talent Acquisition Business Partner, Aon, NSW; Prof Bogda Koczwara AM, Senior Staff Specialist, Department of Medical Oncology, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Sharyn McGowan, Occupational Therapist, Bendigo Health, VIC; Jeanne Potts, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Michelle Smerdon, Legal and Financial Support Services Manager, Cancer Council NSW. We would also like to than the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.