What Does the Continued Rise in COVID-19 Cases Mean for Cancer Patients?

AONN+ Blog published on January 19, 2021 in COVID-19
Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG
Editor-in-Chief, JONS; Co-Founder, AONN+; University Distinguished Service Professor of Breast Cancer, Professor of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Co-Developer, Work Stride-Managing Cancer at Work, Johns Hopkins Healthcare Solutions

As of January 15, 2021, the United States was still seeing a continued upswing in the number of people being diagnosed, hospitalized, and dying of COVID-19. By the end of January, or sooner, we will surely see the death toll grow to 400,000 individuals.

For patients who are newly diagnosed with cancer, decisions around when to start treatment and what kind of treatment is appropriate will be made based on what is safest for the patient during this pandemic. Patients with very early-stage solid organ tumors that are average or slow growing may be instructed to wait before having their surgeries. Patients needing chemotherapy will likely be switched to an oral oncolytic to avoid having the patient come into the infusion center for their treatments. Patients with advanced disease will be offered hospice care sooner to avoid possible exposure to the virus, if the patient needs to be hospitalized or receive treatment in the infusion center.

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