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Coronavirus: FAQ for people with kidney cancer


Frequently Asked Questions

If you have kidney cancer and are worried about how Coronavirus may affect you, the following FAQ for people with kidney cancer from Kidney Cancer UK are a useful guide. These are not a replacement for the advice from your healthcare team.

Updated 25th March 2020

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Q: Am I in the shielding ‘extremely vulnerable’ person category?

A: If you have metastatic kidney cancer and are on or have recently finished   immunotherapy for example nivolumab, ipilimumab, pembrolizumab, avelumab, durvalumab and tremelimumab.

You are also in this category if you are on a TKI (tyrosine kinase inhibitor) pazopanib, sunitinib, tivozanib, cabozantinib or axitinib or an MTor, such as everolimus.

This list is not exhaustive and if you are on or have been on a clinical trial you may also be included in this category.

If you have recently undergone surgery you will also be within this shielding group.

You should receive a text or letter from the NHS by the 30th March advising you further. If you feel you fall into this category but have not received a letter, please contact your cancer specialist. Once you have received the letter please ensure you visit the website here and to complete the registration. You can also self-register at the same site if you feel you should be on this list. 

This letter is a statement of you not being fit to work and can help you access benefits.  

People in this category are considered extremely vulnerable by the government as they are more likely to need hospital treatment for the illness COVID 19 that arises from coronavirus.

Source: Extremely vulnerable

Q: What measures do I need to take, if classed as extremely vulnerable?

A: The safest course of action is for you to stay at home at all times and avoid all face-to-face contact for at least twelve weeks from today, except from carers and healthcare workers who you must see as part of your medical care; this will protect you by avoiding contact with the virus. This is a choice and, if you have been given a prognosis of less than six months, it might be worthwhile chatting to your family and GP about deciding whether to undertake these measures or not.

Q: How will I get food and medicine?

A: If you are in touch with friends, family or a support network in your community, they can support you by getting your food and medicine. If you do not have contacts who can help or  support you go CLICK HERE or call 0800 0288327, the Government’s dedicated helpline.

You should

  • strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • symptoms include
  • high temperature (above 37.8 °C)
  • and/or a new and continuous cough
  • not leave your home
  • not attend any gatherings
  • includes gatherings of friends and families in private spaces e.g. family homes, weddings and religious services
  • not go out for shopping, leisure or travel
  • When arranging food or medication deliveries, these should be left at the door to minimise contact
  • keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
  • use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services
  • regularly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Ask carers or support workers who visit your home to do the same.

Q: What if I am not part of the shielding measures?

A: ALL people with underlying health conditions are seen as vulnerable. If you have had  a nephrectomy and are now on ‘no treatment’ you should still observe the rules to stay at home, if you are able, e.g. if you are not a key worker and are required to work. If you need to do your own shopping, please follow social distancing guidance (2 metres/ 6 feet) away from another person. Wash your hands when you return home.


Q: What if I am waiting for surgery?

A: The decision to proceed with any surgery will be a balance between the urgency of the operation against the risk of acquiring coronavirus, and of the consequences of doing so. For more information see the BAUS (British Association of Urology surgeons) link below.

Source: BAUS Surgery

Q: What are the symptoms of coronavirus

A: A new continuous cough and /or fever (above 37.8 °C). However, if you are on treatment and feel unwell in any way, please contact your healthcare team in the way they have recommended i.e. chemotherapy careline , the acute oncology service at the hospital you are receiving treatment or whichever way your team recommended.


Q: what do I do if I am on a clinical trial?

A: You will most likely be contacted by your team to inform you of any changes to the treatments. If you need more information on clinical trials the National Institute for Health Research’s (NIHR) Clinical Trials Guide  is very informative here. We also have a page relating to anyone on the Rampart trial explaining the changes that have been made. You can view the page here

Q: What do I do if I think I have coronavirus?

A: If you develop a new continuous cough and /or a fever AND you are in the shielding group, go to NHS 111 online coronavirus service to seek advice or call NHS111 if you don’t have internet access. Do this as soon as you get symptoms. If you are seriously ill, call 999, however, do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or any hospital.

For others who are not in the extremely vulnerable group you are asked to not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home; testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home. Instead self-isolate for 7 days as per guidance for everyone. If symptoms become unmanageable or last for more than 7 days, go to NHS 111 online coronavirus service to seek advice or call NHS111 if you don’t have internet access.

The NHS has advised that those in the extremely vulnerable group should prepare a hospital bag (like when going in to have surgery). This should include your emergency contact, a list of the medications you take (including dose and frequency), any information on your planned care appointments and things you would need for an overnight stay (snacks, pyjamas, toothbrush, medication and so on). If you have an advanced care plan, please include that.


Useful guidelines links