American Cancer Society Patient Survey Indicates Cancer Treatment Delays Due to COVID

According to a survey from the American Cancer Society (ACS), patients with cancer report experiencing oncology treatment delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ACS Cancer Action Network (CAN) initiated a survey on March 25, which was deployed across a two-week period to the 3,055 U.S. patients with cancer and survivors participating in the Survivor Views initiative. The survey was also shared through ACS CAN social media and email channels to recruit additional respondents. A total of 1,219 people responded to the survey.

Fifty-one percent of respondents were receiving active cancer treatment. About half of respondents (48%) have employer-based insurance, and 32% are Medicare beneficiaries.

Half of patients with cancer and survivors impacted by COVID-19

Half of patients with cancer and survivors reported an impact (change, delay, or disruption) to their healthcare due to COVID-19, with 27% of patients currently in active treatment reporting a delay in therapy, and 13% of those in active treatment reporting care delays with no knowledge of when it will be rescheduled, “indicating a great deal of uncertainty about their future ability to access care,” the study authors wrote.

Among respondents whose care has been cancelled, delayed, or changed, the most commonly impacted services are in-person provider visits (50%), supportive services such as therapy (20%), and imaging procedures (20%).

More than one-third of respondents (38%) said they have experienced a notable financial impact that affects their ability to pay for care. The most common financial issues affecting access to care include reduced work hours (14%), reduced investment values (11%), difficulty affording food and supplies in order to stay at home to avoid contracting the virus (9%), and loss of a job (8%). Among respondents, 28% expressed worry about the financial impact of COVID-19 making it difficult to pay for the healthcare, and this concern was highly correlated with income, with 46% of those earning $30,000 or less reporting that they are worried.

One-third of patients with cancer and survivors report being worried about the impact COVID-19 will have on their ability to receive cancer treatment, particularly among those who are currently in active treatment (40% of whom expressed concern).