- 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. Viruses such as colds, flu and COVID-19 in the workplace or on transport to and from work may be easier to catch and pose serious risks. 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 others know that you are more likely to get infections. Your employer can remind staff it’s important 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.
- Wear a mask at work and on public transport.
- Work in a well-ventilated space and social distance.
- Keep your workspace clean, especially if you share a desk or car. Wipe down the phone, keyboard, desk and mouse regularly and 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.
- Ask your doctor about flu and COVID-19 vaccines. Tell HR or your manager if you think you have caught something at work for health and safety and insurance purposes.
- If possible, take time off if you work in hospitality, health care or childcare, especially if your immunity is low (e.g. low white cells).
- Wash your hands before eating and drinking, and after taking public transport and using the toilet.
- Clean and cover wounds to prevent infection. Report any injury to HR 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
Brooke Russell, Principal Occupational Therapist, WA Cancer Occupational Therapy, WA; Bianca Alessi, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Dr Prunella Blinman, Medical Oncologist, Concord Cancer Centre, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; James Chirgwin, Physiotherapist, The Wesley Hospital, QLD; Danielle Curnoe, Consumer; Simon Gates, Barrister, Tasmanian Bar, TAS; Justin Hargreaves, Medical Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Bendigo Health Cancer Centre, VIC; Kaylene Jacques, Director, People and Communications, Cancer Council NSW; Alex Kelly, Senior People Attraction Advisor, Human Resources, Allianz Australia Insurance, NSW; Legal reviewer; Georgina Lohse, Social Worker, GV Health, VIC; Lesley McQuire, Consumer, Cancer Voices NSW.
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