LONDON, Ont. - Catching influenza can be dangerous for anyone, but it can be especially detrimental to cancer patients.

“There is an increased risk of being hospitalized and a potential increased risk of death because influenza in some cases can be very serious,” says Lawson Health Research Institute Oncologist Dr. Phillip Blanchette.

In fact, approximately 20 per cent of cancer patients who catch influenza are hospitalized and having the flu can cause a host of additional complications when it comes to cancer treatment.

“If someone gets influenza during their cancer treatments it can cause significant delays in their treatment and that can have impacts on their cancer as well.”

Blanchette has been working on a study examining the efficacy the flu vaccine has on cancer patients.

The study used data collected between the period of 2010 and 2016 from around 26,000 cancer patients in the province who had been tested for influenza.

“We found amongst all cancer patients that the influenza effectiveness when it comes to laboratory-confirmed influenza was around 21 per cent.”

Blanchette says even though that number is lower than the efficacy rate amongst the general population it still shows the benefits of the flu shot for cancer patients

“This is a significant result and supports the current clinical practice guidelines for influenza vaccinations amongst cancer patients during flu season.”

And when it comes to the safety of the influenza vaccine for cancer patients Blanchette says, “The flu vaccine is safe amongst cancer patients. It may not be quite as effective but it is definitely safe and the study results really show that there is a benefit.”

More information about the study can be found in the Journal of Clinical Oncology or at