People who have cancer have many health concerns.
Among them is the fact that treatments make a difference the immune system, increasing the risk of infections like measles.
“Getting measles at any time in your life is dangerous,” said Dr. Nicholas Rohs, assistant professor of hematology and oncology at the Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “But it’s particularly dangerous in people who are getting active cancer therapy.”
The measles vaccine has been so effective that the disease was declared eliminated Trusted Source in the United States in 2000.
But in 2019, that’s no more true.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 839 cases Trusted Source of measles in 23 states at the time of May 10. This number is preliminary and susceptible to change.
The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. It’s given in two doses: the initial typically between 12 and 15 months old and the 2nd between 4 and 6 years of age.
Those too young for the vaccine or people who have compromised immune systems must be determined by a community’s “herd immunity” for protection.
For measles, that will require a vaccination rate between 93 and 95 percent Trusted Source.
In the United States, vaccination coverage varies from state to state. In 2017, 11 states reported coverage levels under 90 percent Trusted Source.
Measles continues to be common in several areas of the world. Which means travelers would bring the disease to the United States.
The virus is highly contagious. It survives around two hours in the air after an infected person sneezes or coughs. It could spread from four days before to four days after you find the measles rash.
When you yourself have measles, up to 90 percent Trusted Source of men and women around you will get the disease if they’re not already immune.
Rohs says that when it comes to people who have cancer, the best risk would be to those who are undergoing active chemotherapy.
“Many types of chemotherapy can suppress the immune system, making it harder for the body to combat the virus,” he told Healthline. “However, other types of cancer therapy, including targeted pills and immunotherapy, also can suppress the immune system.”
Certain types of cancer, such as for example lymphoma, may increase the risk of infection even whenever a person isn’t being treated, Rohs adds.
“With the possible immunosuppressive effects of the therapy as well as the general demands on the body to heal and recuperate, an individual are at higher danger of having more complications from the disease, including it spreading to mental performance and lung, which is often life-threatening,” he said.
Dr. Istvan Redei is director of the Stem Cell Transplant and Cell Therapy Program at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Illinois.
Redei told Healthline the danger is especially acute for people with certain hematologic diseases.
“Treatment options may include essentially rebooting the patient’s immune system through a stem cell transplant to simply help treat the primary illness,” he said.
“In these cases, patients don’t yet have the protection of vaccines, making population health through vaccination an important factor because of their recovery after treatment to simply help limit complications through a secondary illness such as the measles,” he explained.
Population health identifies the protective effect a high vaccination rate might have on supporting immunocompromised patients or other people who are unable to get vaccines because of allergy symptoms and other reasons