Diane Heaton, M.D.

Dr. Heaton serves as the Medical Director of Northeastern Oklahoma Cancer Institute.

A cancer diagnosis is life-changing; treatment suppresses the immune system which can make patients more vulnerable to infections. With the current pandemic, COVID-19, many are asking if they should start or continue cancer treatment.

COVID-19 risks are evaluated on a case by case basis. If a Radiation Oncologist is recommending therapy and to not wait, then it is encouraged that the patient proceed with treatment. Northeastern Oklahoma Cancer Institute Medical Director, Dr. Diane Heaton, has discussed precautions with physicians in China and there are certain preventative measures that we are taking to mitigate the possibility of spread to our patients, community, and staff.

Northeastern Oklahoma Cancer Institute has been very proactive with implementing precautions and minimizing people in our department; we screen all patients before they enter the building. If they pass the screening, meaning they are not symptomatic of COVID-19, masks must be worn and hand sanitizer must be applied upon entering and they are asked to enter the building alone unless absolutely necessary, as a courtesy to everyone. Staff is wearing appropriate PPE and have been self-isolating for six weeks and will continue to do so.

In addition, there are steps cancer patients can take at home to try to reduce risks and improve outcomes. Patients should be sure to stay active as much as possible by marching in place while watching TV or going outside for a walk as long as they can stay six feet away from others. Nutrition is vital during cancer treatment; patients should avoid the urge to reach for snacks and focus on eating a well-balanced diet. Quality of sleep is another key factor in maintaining optimal health during cancer treatment. Take these steps and talk with your doctor about your risk factors.

Thus far, we have not seen a case of COVID-19 at Northeastern Oklahoma Cancer Institute. Our goal is to continue to deliver excellent care while protecting our patients, our healthcare team, and the community.

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