Delivering cancer care in times of a pandemic is a challenge. Reduced hospital capacities and increased infection risks have had many impacts in the oncology world. Given that many cancer patients have to undergo tumour removal surgery and endure regular cycles of immunosuppressive chemo- and radiotherapy, cancer care at present is a war on two fronts.
Initial reports suggested that cancer patients are more vulnerable1, and importantly at higher risk of hospitalisation and fatality related to COVID-192. This is in part due to their older age and the presence of other illnesses. Limited data exists to demonstrate whether patients with certain cancer types or receiving specific cancer treatments are at a higher risk for COVID-19 related complications than others. Currently, treatment modifications to protect cancer patients from COVID-19 are based on limited scientific data and expert opinions. Sharing and comparing more real-world data on patterns of symptoms and severity of COVID-19 among cancer patients is vital to optimising treatment modifications. Therefore, specific registries have been established to collect data on how the virus impacts cancer care and patient outcomes. 3, 4
A more immediate way to gather and analyse the current treatment situation are virtual round-table discussions that bring together healthcare professionals at a regional, national or global level. At a time when personal meetings are not recommended, virtual platforms are an easy and time-efficient way for HCPs to share their latest learnings. The inclusion of pharmaceutical companies may help to serve as a foundation for future collaborative projects for the benefit of patients. Major points of discussion can be summarised in a balanced and neutral fashion, and can also lead to the development of patient tools such as eBooks.
If you are interested in organising a virtual round-table to discuss the latest real-life data in cancer care or any other condition, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Liang W, Guan W, Chen R, et al. Cancer patients in SARS-CoV-2 infection: a nationwide analysis in China. Lancet Oncol. 2020;21(3):335‐337. doi:10.1016/S1470-2045(20)30096-6
2. Zhang L, Zhu F, Xie L et al. Clinical characteristics of COVID-19-infected cancer patients: a retrospective case study in three hospitals within Wuhan, China. Ann Oncol. 2020; DOI:10.1016/j.annonc.2020.03.296