Information for families about COVID-19 and pancreatic cancer.
We know this will be a worrying time if someone you care about has pancreatic cancer. This page has information to help you support them during coronavirus. You can also speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line. They can answer any questions about pancreatic cancer and coronavirus, and talk through your concerns. The Support Line is available for family and carers as well as people with pancreatic cancer.
On this page
- If you live with someone with pancreatic cancer
- If you don’t live with the person with pancreatic cancer
- Making plans for supporting someone with pancreatic cancer
If you live with someone with pancreatic cancer who is extremely vulnerable of getting seriously unwell from coronavirus and has received a letter from the NHS telling them to shield, you will need to help in protecting them from getting coronavirus.
- You should try to keep 2 metres (6 feet) away from them.
- Try to keep any time you spend in the same room as them to a minimum.
- Keep rooms you both use well ventilated – for example, open windows as much as possible.
- If possible, sleep in a different bed to them.
- If you can, use a separate bathroom from them. If you share a bathroom, make sure you wipe clean surfaces after each person has used it.
- Make sure the person with pancreatic cancer uses a different towel from everyone else.
- Make sure that everyone in the house regularly washes their hands and avoids touching their face, and clean surfaces that are touched a lot.
- Stay at home as much as possible. When you do go out, follow the NHS advice about social distancing very carefully.
Read more for people who are extremely vulnerable of getting seriously unwell from coronavirus. The NHS website and GOV.UK website have information for people caring for someone at very high risk of illness from coronavirus.
If you live in England and Wales, the person with pancreatic cancer can now go outside with people they live with, but should follow strict social distancing. Read more about this.
If you live with someone who has pancreatic cancer but they haven’t had a letter from the NHS telling them to stay at home, you should all follow the government’s guidance on hygiene and social distancing. They should be particularly careful about this, as they may still be at higher risk of getting ill from coronavirus. Read more about this in our information explaining coronavirus.
If you or someone you live with gets symptoms of coronavirus
If you or someone else in the home get symptoms of coronavirus, try to arrange for the person with pancreatic cancer to stay with friends or family for 14 days. You should also do this if you are contacted by the NHS contact tracing service becase you have been in contact with someone who tested positive to coronavirus. If the person with pancreatic cancer can’t stay somewhere else, try to keep 2 metres away from them as much as possible.
You can use the NHS online services to check your symptoms and to get advice about what to do next. You can also sign up to the NHS text message service to get text messages with advice and information.
If someone in your household has symptoms of coronavirus you will all need to self-isolate. This means you should stay at home. This includes the person with pancreatic cancer if they can’t stay somewhere else.
- If you have symptoms you should stay at home for 7 days from when you first had symptoms. If you still have a temperature after 7 days, stay at home until your temperature returns to normal.
- If someone else has symptoms, you will need to stay at home for 14 days from when they first had symptoms.
If the person with pancreatic cancer is having chemotherapy and gets symptoms of coronavirus call the emergency number their chemotherapy team will have given them. If you can’t get through, contact their clinical nurse specialist (CNS) or medical team. You could also try the consultant’s secretary or hospital switchboard if you struggle to get through to the medical team. If you still can’t get through, call 111, or 999 if it’s an emergency.
If the person with pancreatic cancer isn’t having chemotherapy but gets symptoms of coronavirus, you should follow the advice about self-isolation. If they don’t get better after 7 days or get worse, or they feel they can’t cope, call 111.
There is information about what to do if you or someone you live with have symptoms of coronavirus on the GOV.UK website.
If you are not providing essential care to the person with pancreatic cancer such as help with washing or dressing, you should avoid visiting them. The NHS recommends that people with underlying health conditions should significantly reduce how much they see people face to face, including friends and family. This is to protect them from getting coronavirus. It can be hard not seeing loved ones, but there are ways to keep in touch – read our tips.
If you live in England and Wales and the person with pancreatic cancer lives alone, they can see one other person – as long they stay outside and carefully follow social distancing. Read more about this.
If you are providing care to the person with pancreatic cancer, it is still fine for you to visit them, as long as you don’t have symptoms of coronavirus. You should wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you arrive, and often while you are there. Carers UK have lots of information about coronavirus for carers.
You may find it helpful to plan ahead with the person with pancreatic cancer, to help you both cope with the coronavirus situation. It may be helpful to talk to family and friends about what’s needed.
If the person with pancreatic cancer isn’t able to leave the home, they may rely on the support of family, friends and neighbours – for example, to help with getting shopping and medicines. You could try arranging a rota of who does what to share this out. There are services that have been set up across the UK that can also provide support. You can contact the NHS Volunteer Responders for help with shopping and other essential supplies. There may also be local voluntary groups that can provide support – look on the COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK website to see if there’s a group near you.
If you are caring for someone with pancreatic cancer, it’s a good idea to make a plan in case you become unwell. Work out if there’s somebody the person with pancreatic cancer could stay with, or who might be able to care for them. If you need help with care but you’re not sure who to contact, or if you don’t have family or friends who can help, you can contact your local council or NHS Trust, who should be able to help.
Note down the following key information, and share it with others:
- the name and address and any other contact details of the person you look after
- who you and the person you care for would like to be contacted in an emergency
- details of any medication they are taking
- details of any ongoing treatment they need
- contact details for their GP and medical team
- details of any medical appointments they need to keep.
It’s a good idea to pack a hospital bag for the person with pancreatic cancer, in case they do catch coronavirus and have to go to hospital. Include their emergency contacts, any medicines, pancreatic enzymes such as Creon, as well as things they might need for staying overnight such as night clothes, and a toothbrush. Read some more suggestions on planning ahead.
There is more information on the GOV.UK website for families. Carers UK also have information for people caring for others.And remember, if you have any questions about coronavirus and pancreatic cancer, you can speak to our specialist nurses on our Support Line.