What is it about?

The COVID-19 pandemic has made things distinctly worse for people suffering from diseases like cancer. Patients with cancer have higher death rates from COVID-19 than the general population. Factors like age, sex, cancer type, smoking habits, and other diseases make these patients more vulnerable to COVID-19. In addition, with the use of certain cancer drugs, some studies reported an increased risk of death, while others have reported that this is no change in risk. Providing treatment to patients with cancer during the pandemic is of utmost importance. However, this has thrown up challenges of its own. The pandemic has made accessing cancer care difficult. Cancer centers have reported huge drops in clinic visits among patients, owing to their increased risk of developing COVID-19. In addition, these issues have affected minority populations to a greater degree. For example, Hispanic and Black populations were less likely to use telehealth facilities and more likely to develop COVID-19 than White populations. In this article, the authors stress the importance of appropriate treatment decisions, as these could save the lives of many patients. Providing care tailored to the needs of each patient to prevent COVID-19. They urge clinicians to prioritize therapies for cancer patients to achieve the best outcomes.

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Why is it important?

The interactions between cancer, COVID-19, and different cancer drugs are complex. We need to understand them better, to modify treatment strategies for patients. There has also been a huge disruption to cancer care during the pandemic. The rate of cancer screening in the US dropped by 70% during the early stages of the pandemic. This is concerning, as even modest delays in treatments or surgery can be deadly for patients. The findings prompt the need for strategies to guide treatment decisions for patients with cancer during critical times. These should be developed to ensure optimal outcomes. KEY TAKEAWAY: The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted therapies for cancer patients. Delays in cancer treatments can lead to lethal outcomes. Hence, clinicians need to adopt appropriate strategies to give the best care possible to this population.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Treatment Decisions for Patients with Cancer during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Cancer Discovery, April 2021, American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), DOI: 10.1158/2159-8290.cd-21-0210.
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