As part of our In Conversation series, we have reached out once again to Professor Arnold Hill, Chairman of Breast Cancer Ireland and leading breast surgeon with some of the questions that have come in from our concerned breast cancer community over the past few weeks. 

1. I’m taking tamoxifen. Am I more at risk of contacting coronavirus?

No. You are not at more risk by taking tamoxifen. Hormone therapy does not affect your immune system or your risk of getting coronavirus or of becoming seriously ill if you do get it.

Keep taking your hormone therapy and follow the coronavirus guidelines from the HSE.

2. I’ve had lymph nodes removed. Does this affect my immunity?

It’s common to have lymph nodes under the arm removed as part of treatment for breast cancer.  While having lymph node surgery increases the risk of a condition called lymphoedema, having nodes removed or having lymphoedema does not affect the overall ability of the immune system to fight infection.

3. I’m worried my treatment might be delayed

At the moment, Breast Clinic services are running and we are seeing all primary breast cancer patients. Your treatment should not be delayed in any significant way. It is possible your doctor may alter the scheduling of your treatment plan to reduce risk, on a personal basis.

4. I’ve been told my planned radiotherapy may be shortened. Is this safe?

Yes. Some people due to have radiotherapy may be told their treatment will be given over a shorter period than originally planned, but this will be discussed on a patient by patient basis.

6. What if I’m having treatment and live with someone who gets symptoms?

If someone in your household starts to develop the symptoms of coronavirus they should contact their GP, identify themselves and then follow all the distancing protocols.