COVID-19 Has Affected Cancer Care and Oncologists’ Well-Being

Delays and cancellation of cancer treatments and other safety measures undertaken to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 exposure have created a significant backlog in cancer care and research, according to new studies discussed at the ESMO Virtual Congress 2020. In this study, researchers obtained oncologist responses from oncology centers in 18 countries. They observed that 60.9% reported that clinical activity was reduced at the peak of the pandemic, while nearly two-thirds (64.2%) cited under-treatment as a major concern and 37% expected to see significant reductions in clinical trials this year. Study author Dr Guy Jerusalem, Center Hospital University Sart Tilman, Belgium, said via press release: “COVID-19 has had a major impact on the organisation of patient care, on the wellbeing of caregivers and clinical trial activities. There is a risk that the diagnosis of new cancer cases will be delayed and that more patients will be diagnosed at a later stage of their disease.”   “Whether the risk for dark statistics is real or not will only become evident in the future when more robust results from real-world studies and registries are available,” said Dr Stefan Zimmermann, ESMO Press Officer, at the congress opening press conference. “For now, it is legitimate to ask ourselves if there are other factors beyond COVID-19 that currently put strain on oncology as the pandemic has also revealed some weaknesses in how cancer care is resourced and organised,” he added.