We are all now well aware of the basic preventative measures to protect ourselves from COVID-19 infection including frequent hand washing, social distancing, and staying home when possible. However, cancer patients often have a weakened immune system, putting them at higher risk for infection. A brief summary of informational resources for cancer patients, their caregivers, and oncology professionals follow.
The American Cancer Society recommends that “Cancer patients and their caregivers need to take precautions to lower their risk of getting COVID-19.” American Cancer Society’s information on the impact of COVID-19 on cancer patients and survivors can be found here:
A unique program of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is Survivor Views, a national cohort of over 3,000 cancer patients and survivors who complete regular surveys on a range of public policy issues important to the cancer community. Results of a recent Survivor Views survey on the impact of COVID-19 on cancer patients showed sobering findings. Among them:
- 50% of cancer patients and survivors reported some impact to their health care due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- 27% of patients currently in active treatment report a delay to their treatment
- 38% of respondents report a notable impact on their financial situation that affects their ability to pay for care
Additional information can be found here:
To reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society, also recommends postponing routine cancer screening tests such as mammograms, colonoscopies, etc. for the time being.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is “united in working together to continue the critical work of conquering cancer during this health care crisis.” Dr. Richard L. Schilsky, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of ASCO also notes “Our patients are already dealing with a life-threatening illness and are particularly vulnerable to this viral infection”
ASCO information for oncology professionals regarding help to ensure high-quality clinical care for cancer patients is available at: https://www.asco.org/asco-coronavirus-information
ASCO also hosts a blog by Dr. Merry Jennifer Markham for cancer patients to provide practical advice about COVID-19 and cancer. Dr. Markham’s blog is here: https://www.cancer.net/blog/2020-03/coronavirus-2019-what-people-with-cancer-need-know
We will update this page with additional information as it becomes available.