Information for patients

Relaxing measures at the Netherlands Cancer Institute

As of September 25, measures in the Netherlands will be further relaxed. This will also affect the NKI COVID policy. We are happy to be able to loosen restrictions on our visitation policy, and that we can welcome more patient support people. Employees, patients, support people, and visitors will still have to wear face masks, however. The virus is still with us, so please stay alert and do not come to the NKI if you are experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19, like cold symptoms or a fever.

A quick overview of our policy:

  • Visitors and support people welcome at our institute again: More than 2 people can visit a patient every 24 hours. The total amount of visitors differs per department. Visitation hours are between 15.30 and 19.30.
  • Social distancing - it works: We strongly recommend social distancing.
  • We will continue to wear face masks: Many patients at the Netherlands Cancer Institute are vulnerable and will get a third vaccine because they are not fully protected yet. 
  • We will continue to hold phone or video consultations
  • Hygiene policy still applies: Please wash your hands often, cover a sneeze or cough with your elbow, use paper tissues, and do not shake hands.
  • Do not come to the NKI if you are experiencing symptoms: We ask our patients to contact us if they are experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19. We will determine whether you can come in for your appointment. 
  • More people are allowed on the elevators: but please remember to wear a face mask.

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.

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, personal hygiene, social distancing, and barring entry for people with symptoms will remain in effect to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

I am anxious or concerned, what should I do?

The coronavirus outbreak can be very stressful. 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.

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.

Are you coming in for hospital admission or an appointment? 
Please let us know, preferably a day in advance, whether you:

  • are experiencing health symptoms related to COVID-19;
  • tested positive for COVID-19;
  • are a close contact in contact tracing;
  • have returned from a color-coded red or orange area and need to self-isolate.

if any of the above apply, please contact +31(0)20 – 512 9111. We will assess your symptoms and determine whether you can come in for your appointment.

Who qualifies for a phone or video consultation instead of an in-person consultation at the NKI?

The pandemic taught us a lot about video consultations. Many patients liked these video consultations too. Our team will investigate your symptoms to see if a phone or video consultation is right for you, or if you will need to come to the NKI.

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 the side effects of the treatment, discuss the results of diagnostic testing or the next step in treatment, or 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 vaccines

I am receiving immunotherapy and/or 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 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 scheduled for surgery. 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.

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

As of Thursday, June 3, we will register your vaccination 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 vaccination 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.

Information about hospital facilities

Can I still use the NKI Shuttle Service?

You can. The shuttle service runs between the parking garage and the main entrance of the AVL, and back.

Can I get food at the restaurant?

Yes. The restaurant and coffee bar are open again. In accordance with the government's COVID-19 policy, a corona entry pass is not required to sit at our restaurant.

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.

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.