What is it about?

Patients with cancer have a higher risk of infection and death by COVID-19 than healthy people. Moreover, the pandemic has disrupted cancer care, from screening and diagnosis to therapy. In this article, the authors review recent studies on COVID-19 and cancer. They discuss at length the issues that patients with cancer are facing during this health crisis. Patients with cancer have weak immune systems. This puts them at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. The authors highlight the characteristics and risk factors for severe COVID-19 illness in cancer patients. Anticancer drugs have been a point of concern during the pandemic. Some drugs diminishes immune response and could contribute to organ damage. Keeping this mind, the authors shed light on the impact that different anticancer drugs have on COVID-19 severity. They also review recent data on the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in patients with cancer. Given the large number of drugs and COVID-19 vaccines currently under trial, we expect great progress in the future.

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Why is it important?

COVID-19 has disrupted each aspect of the cancer journey, from diagnosis to treatment. Patients with cancer also struggle with social isolation and access to proper care. We need more evidence backed by research to prepare guidelines for cancer patients with COVID-19. We must also consider the patient's perspective in the process. Consultations over the internet should be encouraged to avoid in person meetings and delays in diagnosis. Equal access to treatment needs to be promoted as a priority. Only then can we make sure that all patients with cancer receive appropriate attention and care. KEY TAKEAWAY: This review describes the challenges that patients with cancer face due to the pandemic. It connects the dots between cancer and COVID-19 research. The findings can improve the effectiveness of healthcare systems at times of crisis.

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This page is a summary of: Learning through a Pandemic: The Current State of Knowledge on COVID-19 and Cancer, Cancer Discovery, December 2021, American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), DOI: 10.1158/2159-8290.cd-21-1368.
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