The immune system protects the body from harmful bacteria and other organisms. Cancer and cancer treatment may weaken the immune system in a number of ways:
- Some types of cancer—especially lymphomas and leukemias—may stop the bone marrow from producing enough healthy white blood cells, which work to fight off infection.
- Chemotherapy and radiotherapy may reduce the number of white blood cells produced by your bone marrow.
- Surgery creates a break in the skin, making it more prone to infection.
If your immune system has been affected, there are certain precautions that can help avoid infection. These include:
- Avoiding people with infections
- Avoiding places where there is a risk of infection
- Avoiding crowds
- Talking to your doctor before you have any vaccines
- Maintaining good personal hygiene
- Keep a clean mouth
- Protecting your central line or central catheter (if you have one) from bacteria and damage
- Avoiding foods that may contain harmful bacteria