Information for families about coronavirus and pancreatic cancer

Information to help you support someone with pancreatic cancer during coronavirus.

We know this is a worrying time if someone you care about has pancreatic cancer. You can 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.

If you live with someone with pancreatic cancer

If you live with someone with pancreatic cancer who has been shielding, shielding has now stopped across the UK.

Although many legal restrictions are now lifting, if you live with someone who has pancreatic cancer, you may be worried about what this means for them. You should still be careful to protect yourselves from coronavirus. For example, carry on washing your hands carefully, and you could still stay 2 metres from people you don’t live with. If you haven’t yet had the coronavirus vaccine, then get this. And you could take regular lateral flow tests – you can get these from pharmacies. Read more about coronavirus and staying safe.

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 because 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.

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 10 days from when you first had symptoms. If you still have a temperature after 10 days, stay at home until your temperature returns to normal.
  • If someone else has symptoms, you will need to stay at home for 10 days from when they first had symptoms.

There is information about what to do if you or someone you live with have symptoms of coronavirus on the GOV.UK website.

Symptoms of coronavirus and chemotherapy

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 testing and self-isolation. If they don’t get better after 7 days or get worse, or they feel they can’t cope, call 111.

If you don’t live with the person with pancreatic cancer

If you are providing care to the person with pancreatic cancer, it is 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.

You can now meet people you don’t live with, and stay overnight. Read about current restrictions. If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, it is up to you how close you get to them. Think carefully about the risk of coronavirus and how you can reduce the risk. For example, you might want to stay 2 metres apart until they have had both doses of the vaccine. Or you might decide to meet outside. If you do meet inside, make sure the room is well ventilated by opening the windows and doors. In Northern Ireland, the guidance is still to maintain social distancing.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, if either you or the person with pancreatic cancer live alone, you could think about forming a support bubble or extended household (depending on where you live). Read more about support bubbles and extended households.

Carers UK have lots of information about coronavirus for carers.

Making plans for supporting someone with pancreatic cancer

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.

The person with pancreatic cancer 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 medicine 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.

Carers UK also have information for people caring for others.

Speak to our nurses

If you have any questions about coronavirus and pancreatic cancer, you can speak to our specialist nurses on our Support Line.

Speak to our nurses
A specialist nurse taking a phone call.

Updated: 19 July 2021