21 Sep COVID-19 Major Impact on Cancer Patients, Oncologists and Medical Education
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Guy Jerusalem MD PhD
Medical Oncology, CHU Sart Tilman Liège and University of Liège
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: COVID-19 pandemic impacted healthcare systems globally and resulted in the interruption of usual care in many healthcare facilities exposing vulnerable cancer patients to significant risks. Our study aimed to evaluate the impact of this pandemic on cancer care worldwide. A 95 items survey was constructed and distributed worldwide by 20 oncologists from 10 of the most affected countries. 109 representatives from oncology centers in 18 countries filled out the survey between June 17 and July 14.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Treatment modalities mostly affected by the pandemic (defined as cancellation or major delay in at least 10% of patients) were surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy in respectively 34%, 22% and 14 % of the centers. Earlier cessation of palliative anticancer treatment was observed in 32% of the centers. Importantly, 64% of participants agrred that undertreatment is a major concern.
At the pandemic peak, teleconsultations were performed by most participants at least for some patients in long term follow-up or receiving oral therapy but also more than half of the participants performed teleconsultations for patients receiving chemotherapy or immunotherapy. 82% estimate that they will continue to use telemedicine more frequently in the future. Most participants reported more frequent use of virtual meetings for continued medical education, oncological team meetings and tumor boards but 45% disagree that virtual meetings are an acceptable alternative to live international meetings.
Although healthcare providers suffer from the pandemic, only 18% of participants estimate that their well-being will not recover to previous levels by the end of the year. 63% indicate easily accessible psychological support for caregivers, but only 10% used or planned to use it.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Our survey confirms that COVID-19 has a major impact on organization of patient care, well-being of caregivers and continued medical education. Although the oncological health care workforce hoped for a rapid normalization of professional activities after the lockdown, a long term impact of COVID-19 is expected.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: We should pay attention to the expected long term impact of the crisis. The risk of delayed diagnosis of new cancers and economic consequences of Covid-19 on access to health care and cancer treatments have to be carefully evaluated.
ESMO Virtual Congress 2020
Expected medium and long term impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in oncology
Annals of Oncology (2020) 31 (suppl_4): S1142-S1215. 10.1016/annonc/annonc32
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