Summer is almost here, which means you may be planning a vacation with your loved ones. However, when you’re undergoing cancer treatments, you may be hesitant to travel outside the country—or even your home state. Here are some tips for traveling with cancer, including what to bring with you and how to make a plan for emergencies.
Tips for Traveling with Cancer
When traveling with cancer, it’s important to know if you might have any health risks. Sometimes, cancer patients who travel during chemotherapy treatment are at an increased risk of infection. Flying after radiation treatment could be dangerous depending on the severity of your cancer.
Doctors may give a flight restriction to cancer patients, as the changing oxygen levels and air pressure can cause complications, like lymphedema or swelling in the limbs. Also, the risk of blood clots can be life-threatening to cancer patients. However, if you do decide to take a trip while you’re undergoing cancer treatment, take the necessary precautions to protect your health and talk to your oncologist if you have any questions or concerns
Get the go-ahead from your doctor
Before you travel, make sure it’s safe by getting a medical clearance from your doctor. He or she can tell you what precautions to take and how to stay safe. They can also instruct you on what to do if you start to feel ill.
When leaving the country, you may be required to get a vaccination for a disease that’s prevalent in that country. However, certain cancer treatments can weaken the immune system, and it may be risky to visit a location that’s affected by a dangerous disease. Your doctor can inform you about any required vaccinations and let you know if your body can handle it.
Depending on your condition, your doctor may give you the go-ahead, but if your case is severe, you may be advised to wait until your treatment is over or until your condition is more stable.
Materials to bring with you
If you get the “okay” to travel, you’ll need to pack a few essentials.
- First, carry any relevant medical records that may help another doctor treat you, if necessary. Make sure they are packed in a place that’s easily accessible.
- Second, pack a strong sunscreen with 30 SPF or higher. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can make the skin more sensitive to sun damage, so it’s important to protect your skin at all times. While you’re in the sun, reapply sunscreen often and cover your skin with loose, comfortable clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.
- Next, you’ll need to carry your prescription medications. While flying, keep them in your carry-on bag so that it won’t get lost in flight. You want to pack enough medication to cover your trip and a little extra, just in case. Also, bring with you a copy of your prescription to refill your medicine in case any is lost or stolen.
- It’s also important to carry a note from your doctor to notify the airline of any extra medical equipment you’ll need to keep with you, like syringes and oxygen tanks.
Contacts to have on hand
When traveling after chemo and radiation, you’ll want a list of emergency contact information handy—mainly the people who know your treatment plan and can help you during an emergency.
Make sure you keep the following numbers on-hand:
- Your oncologist and any other important members of your cancer team like your oncology nurse or medical assistant
- A doctor at the location you’re traveling to
- Emergency contacts, like a caregiver, family member, or close friend
Travel medicine plan
Many patients purchase travel health insurance in case they need medical assistance during their trip. Many travel health insurance companies offer options for trip insurance, including giving you the right to cancel your trip or interrupt it to seek medical assistance.
Travel with a responsible caregiver
Cancer patients should never travel alone. Bring with you a caregiver who understands your treatment plan, knows the medications you’re taking, and can contact the proper people if an emergency occurs.
Is it safe to fly with cancer?
Air travel during chemotherapy may not always be safe. But, depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may give you clearance to fly. Talk to your doctor first before booking any flights.
If you are given clearance to fly, make sure you plan your trip with the airport and your chosen airline before you arrive. Ask for help when it comes to boarding plane early, carrying luggage or medical equipment and using a wheelchair or cart.
If you wear a head cover, wig, breast prosthesis or catheter, TSA may examine it or ask you to remove them. Fill out a TSA Notification card to notify them. You can even request to be screened privately.
When in Doubt, Plan a Staycation!
If traveling with cancer is not approved by your doctor, do not fret! There are plenty of great locations to visit here in the city of Las Vegas such as Mt. Charleston, Lake Las Vegas, and the famous Las Vegas Strip.
Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada’s mission is to heal you, to support the emotional well-being of you and your family, and to be your strongest ally in your fight against cancer.. Visit our patient resources page to learn all about what you need to know during your cancer journey. Consult with your cancer team to find out if travel is safe for you this summer.
Visit us online at cccnevada.com or call us at (702) 952-3350.