Information for patients

We have compiled all the important information for patients on this page.
If your question has not been answered, please contact us at our general phone line (+31 (0)20 512 9111) and we will be happy to help you with your questions.  

General guidelines
We are working on increasing the number of chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments back to the usual amount. Surgeries will proceed as scheduled. Some non-urgent procedures may be postponed. Hospitals throughout the world are sharing their experiences, and we adjust our policies accordingly, if necessary.

Information about vaccines

I am receiving treatment for cancer. Is a vaccination safe for me?

Most studies using approved vaccines did not include people with cancer, so we currently do not know whether cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy and/or immunotherapy are equally protected against the coronavirus by the vaccine. There has been no reason to believe that people with cancer are at risk of more serious side effects as a result of the vaccines, but we will conduct further research into this in 2021. We recommend all cancer patients to get their vaccinations when receiving an invitation from the government and not postponing the moment for the sake of their treatment. 

I am receiving immunotherapy. Is a vaccination safe for me?

Most studies using approved vaccines did not include people with cancer, so we currently do not know whether cancer patients who are receiving immunotherapy are equally protected against the coronavirus by the vaccine. There has been no reason to believe that people with cancer are at risk of more serious side effects as a result of the vaccines, but we will conduct further research into this in 2021. We recommend all cancer patients receiving immunotherapy to get their vaccinations when receiving an invitation from the government and not postponing the moment for the sake of their treatment. 

I am receiving chemotherapy. Is a vaccination safe for me?

Most studies using approved vaccines did not include people with cancer, so we currently do not know whether cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy are equally protected against the coronavirus by the vaccine. There has been no reason to believe that people with cancer are at risk of more serious side effects as a result of the vaccines, but we will conduct further research into this in 2021. We recommend all cancer patients receiving chemotherapy to get their vaccinations when receiving an invitation from the government and not postponing the moment for the sake of their treatment. 

I am scheduled for surgery soon. Is a vaccination safe for me?

Most studies using approved vaccines did not include people with cancer, so we currently do not know whether cancer patients who are receiving treatment (including surgery) are equally protected against the coronavirus by the vaccine. There has been no reason to believe that people with cancer are at risk of more serious side effects as a result of the vaccines, but we will conduct further research into this in 2021. We recommend all cancer patients scheduled for surgery to get their vaccinations.

I am receiving radiotherapy. Is a vaccination safe for me?

Most studies using approved vaccines did not include people with cancer, so we currently do not know whether cancer patients who are receiving radiation treatment are equally protected against the coronavirus by the vaccine. There has been no reason to believe that people with cancer are at risk of more serious side effects as a result of the vaccines, but we will conduct further research into this in 2021. We recommend all cancer patients receiving radiation treatment to get their vaccinations.

Can my NKI physician prioritize me for a COVID-19 vaccine?

The NKI cannot affect the government's vaccination strategy. The Ministry of Health, Wellness, and Sport will determine who will get their vaccinations, and when. The RIVM puts this plan into practice. Information about the groups, order, and strategy can be found on the government website.

Can I receive my vaccination at the NKI as a patient?

In general, no patients will receive their vaccinations at the NKI. There have been several exceptions, due to specific trials or medical risks. These people have been vaccinated. All other patients will be invited for their vaccinations by the RIVM, GGD, or general practitioner. You can find more information about COVID-19 vaccines at government.nl

If I get an invitation for an AstraZeneca vaccination, would it be a good idea to accept it?

Patients with cancer - especially those with cancer in the blood (leukemia or lymphoma) and patients with metastases from lung cancer or other cancers who are receiving chemotherapy are at risk for more serious COVID-19 symptoms than people who do not have cancer. It is very important that all people with cancer receive vaccinations against COVID. Our stance regarding the AstraZeneca vaccines is that people over the age of 60 can safely get vaccinated. For people under the age of 60, the pros of the AstraZeneca vaccine might also outweigh the cons, but the government currently advises otherwise. We will continue to emphasize the importance of vaccinations for cancer patients. 

Why do we ask to register your vaccine status in your medical file?

As of Thursday, June 3, we will register your vaccine status in your medical file. if you are vaccinated, we will register the date and type of vaccine. One of our members of staff will ask you about your vaccine status within the coming weeks if you have an appointment at the NKI. You are not obligated to give us this information if you would prefer not to.

we register this information because we want to ensure that you receive the best care and treatment possible. For that, we will need to have an accurate overview of our patients' situations, which requires information about various things like medications you take, and your vaccination status. We currently do not know whether the vaccines are as effective in preventing COVID-19 for people with cancer who are receiving immunotherapy or chemotherapy. That's why we also want to know the time of your vaccination.

Just like all other information in your medical file, we will handle your data with care and in accordance with the privacy regulations.

General information

Is it safe to visit the Netherlands Cancer Institute?

Yes, it is safe to visit our hospital. We do our best to keep COVID-19 out of our hospital. if we can stay COVID-free, our treatment and procedures can continue as usual.

We take additional measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19 at our hospital. Do you have an appointment or admission date coming up? You will receive a phone call one day before your visit to the hospital to ask you about potential symptoms of COVID-19. We will assess your symptoms to decide whether your appointment can proceed as usual.

Am I more vulnerable as a cancer patient?

Patients with cancer are vulnerable. We have learned more and more about COVID-19, the coronavirus, over the past year and now know that patients with cancer - especially those with cancer in the blood (leukemia or lymphoma) and patients with metastases from lung cancer or other cancers who are receiving chemotherapy are at risk for more serious COVID-19 symptoms than people who do not have cancer. It is very important that all people with cancer receive vaccinations against COVID. The regular measures, hand hygiene, social distancing, no more than 1 visitor at a time, and barring entry for people with symptoms will remain in effect to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

I am anxious or concerned, what should I do?

The coronavirus outbreak can be very stressful, especially now it has been going on for such a long time and we don't know when it will be over. Our day-to-day lives have changed and activities that give us purpose may be gone. We all respond differently to these changes. Some people may feel anxious or struggle with uncertainties. This can be extra overwhelming if you are already facing uncertainly when you or your loved one faces the daily threat of cancer. This is a normal response to an abnormal situation. You may face mental, emotional, or existential responses such as loss of control, estrangement, or loneliness, due to the loss of your routine. Some people experience generalized anxiety, comparable to the feelings surrounding the diagnosis, or ongoing tension and alertness and the inability to relax. Other people may feel anger (because treatment has been delayed or adapted) or worried (of getting infected, or loved ones catching the virus)

Our flyer (in Dutch) contains several practical tips on how to deal with anxiety and fear.

Are you a patient, or a loved one, and are you struggling with your anxiety? Please contact our Survivorship Center at ondersteuningsconsulent@nki.nl. Our consultants will listen to you and can help you find a way to deal with your current situation. We may refer you for additional psychosocial care.

Do I, my accompanist, or my physician need to wear face masks if I am hard of hearing and rely on lip reading?

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, your health care provider can wear a face shield to allow you to lip-read as normal.

If you cannot wear a face mask due to your health, you can take it off once you are in the consultation room or office. As long as you keep a social distance of 1.5 meters at all times. You are welcome to use a face shield if you have one.

If you are bringing a support person, please make sure that he or she wears a face mask for the duration of the visit. He or she is welcome to wear a face shield as well.

I am receiving treatment at the Netherlands Cancer Institute. Can I get a declaration for early vaccination?

Patients at the Netherlands Cancer Institute have asked us whether we can provide a statement for early vaccination. Unfortunately, we cannot provide such a statement. The RIVM determines the vaccination strategy. We follow the RIVM guidelines.

Information about treatments

Is treatment postponed?

Treatment will proceed as normal, but we will take additional precautions: fewer people at the clinic, more phone or video consultations, fewer visitors, and support persons. We ask people coming in for diagnostic tests to tell us about any potential symptoms that could match a COVID-19 infection, and we take the temperature of all our visitors.

Treatment or surgery for people with COVID-19 will be postponed. People who may have been infected with COVID-19 may also have their treatment postponed. We will test you to see whether you have COVID-19.

Non-urgent treatment (preventive surgery or cosmetic procedures) may be postponed if they are not essential to the treatment of cancer.

I am or will soon receive treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy). Is it cancelled?

Treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy) can continue. We will contact you one day before your appointment to ask whether you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. We will assess whether your appointment can proceed. if necessary, we can take adequate protective measures. Your physician may want to discontinue your treatment. if this is the case for you, please discuss this with your practicing physician.

When is a phone or video consultation a good alternative for a regular consultation at the NKI?

To lower the risk of COVID-19 infection at our hospital, we try to keep the numbers of patients at our hospital as low as possible. Whenever possible, we will offer patients phone consultations instead of in-person consultations. We can opt for long-distance consultations if the patient does not need to be physically present, and if this is logistically possible. These consultations can be used to discuss side effects of the treatment, or to discuss the results of diagnostic testing or the next step in treatment, or to answer patient questions.

Can I still receive treatment as part of a trial?

Yes, most trials at the hospital can proceed as they did before the start of the corona crisis. In some cases, your physician may recommend postponing treatment as part of a trial. If this is the case for you, your physician will discuss your options with you.

Information about hospital facilities

Can I still use the NKI Shuttle Service?

Due to COVID-19, the Shuttle Service is temporarily not running. If you experience trouble walking, your accompanist can drop you off in front of the main entrance of our hospital.

Can I get food at the restaurant?

Yes. The restaurant and coffee bar are open again.

Second opinion/ referrals

Can my general practitioner or specialist refer me to the Netherlands Cancer Society?

This is possible, in the same way as before. if you are not currently receiving treatment but want to come in for your yearly screening and you are experiencing symptoms that could be caused by COVID-19, please consult your general practitioner. 

Can I come to the Netherlands Cancer Institute for a second opinion?

Your own specialist or general practitioner can request a second opinion in the same way as before. We currently cannot guarantee that you can come in for a second opinion consultation, however, as we are forced to decline more patients than usual. You can, however, ask your specialist to consult our specialists at the NKI by phone.

Can I transfer my treatment to the NKI?

If treatment at your own hospital is currently not possible, and cannot be postponed, your specialist can consult our specialists at the NKI to see if we can transfer your treatment to our hospital.