As we approach cold and flu season, it’s important to remember how important it is to take care of your health. This is particularly important for cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Chemotherapy can reduce the number of white blood cells you have, which can lead to infections, treatment delays, hospitalization, and sometimes even death. Based on CDC data, about 650,000 cancer patients receive chemotherapy in an outpatient oncology clinic in the United States each year and more than 100,000 are hospitalized because of this side effect.
It is critically important that patients and their caregivers learn about the steps they can take to lower their risk of infection during chemotherapy. That’s why in 2009, CDC and the CDC Foundation set out to create a program to educate patients using simple, engaging tools. The Preventing Infections in Cancer Patients (PICP) program is now celebrating its 10-year anniversary, and continues to provide evidence-based resources for patients, caregivers and oncology providers, with a focus on materials that can be easily understood by all cancer patients. This includes a PSA, a bilingual website in English and Spanish and an interactive virtual healthcare provider tool – TINA and TINA en Espanol.
Learning about health information is confusing at the best of times, but never more so than when you’re dealing with a cancer diagnosis. TINA is designed to be a safe learning environment for patients to learn about the risk of infection and steps they can take to reduce that risk.