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      A Practical Approach to the Management of Cancer Patients During the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID‐19) Pandemic: An International Collaborative Group

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          The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) has rapidly spread globally since being identified as a public health emergency of major international concern and has now been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). In December 2019, an outbreak of atypical pneumonia, known as COVID‐19, was identified in Wuhan, China. The newly identified zoonotic coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus‐2 (SARS‐CoV‐2), is characterized by rapid human‐to‐human transmission. Many cancer patients frequently visit the hospital for treatment and disease surveillance. They may be immunocompromised due to the underlying malignancy or anticancer therapy and are at higher risk of developing infections. Several factors increase the risk of infection, and cancer patients commonly have multiple risk factors. Cancer patients appear to have an estimated twofold increased risk of contracting SARS‐CoV‐2 than the general population. With the WHO declaring the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, there is an urgent need to address the impact of such a pandemic on cancer patients. This include changes to resource allocation, clinical care, and the consent process during a pandemic. Currently and due to limited data, there are no international guidelines to address the management of cancer patients in any infectious pandemic. In this review, the potential challenges associated with managing cancer patients during the COVID‐19 infection pandemic will be addressed, with suggestions of some practical approaches.

          Implications for Practice

          The main management strategies for treating cancer patients during the COVID‐19 epidemic include clear communication and education about hand hygiene, infection control measures, high‐risk exposure, and the signs and symptoms of COVID‐19. Consideration of risk and benefit for active intervention in the cancer population must be individualized. Postponing elective surgery or adjuvant chemotherapy for cancer patients with low risk of progression should be considered on a case‐by‐case basis. Minimizing outpatient visits can help to mitigate exposure and possible further transmission. Telemedicine may be used to support patients to minimize number of visits and risk of exposure. More research is needed to better understand SARS‐CoV‐2 virology and epidemiology.


          Cancer patients have an increased risk of contracting COVID‐19. This article addresses the challenges associated with managing cancer patients during the COVID‐19 infection pandemic and suggests some practical approaches.

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          Most cited references 23

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          Guidelines for preventing health-care--associated pneumonia, 2003: recommendations of CDC and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee.

          This report updates, expands, and replaces the previously published CDC "Guideline for Prevention of Nosocomial Pneumonia". The new guidelines are designed to reduce the incidence of pneumonia and other severe, acute lower respiratory tract infections in acute-care hospitals and in other health-care settings (e.g., ambulatory and long-term care institutions) and other facilities where health care is provided. Among the changes in the recommendations to prevent bacterial pneumonia, especially ventilator-associated pneumonia, are the preferential use of oro-tracheal rather than naso-tracheal tubes in patients who receive mechanically assisted ventilation, the use of noninvasive ventilation to reduce the need for and duration of endotracheal intubation, changing the breathing circuits of ventilators when they malfunction or are visibly contaminated, and (when feasible) the use of an endotracheal tube with a dorsal lumen to allow drainage of respiratory secretions; no recommendations were made about the use of sucralfate, histamine-2 receptor antagonists, or antacids for stress-bleeding prophylaxis. For prevention of health-care--associated Legionnaires disease, the changes include maintaining potable hot water at temperatures not suitable for amplification of Legionella spp., considering routine culturing of water samples from the potable water system of a facility's organ-transplant unit when it is done as part of the facility's comprehensive program to prevent and control health-care--associated Legionnaires disease, and initiating an investigation for the source of Legionella spp. when one definite or one possible case of laboratory-confirmed health-care--associated Legionnaires disease is identified in an inpatient hemopoietic stem-cell transplant (HSCT) recipient or in two or more HSCT recipients who had visited an outpatient HSCT unit during all or part of the 2-10 day period before illness onset. In the section on aspergillosis, the revised recommendations include the use of a room with high-efficiency particulate air filters rather than laminar airflow as the protective environment for allogeneic HSCT recipients and the use of high-efficiency respiratory-protection devices (e.g., N95 respirators) by severely immunocompromised patients when they leave their rooms when dust-generating activities are ongoing in the facility. In the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) section, the new recommendation is to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether to administer monoclonal antibody (palivizumab) to certain infants and children aged <24 months who were born prematurely and are at high risk for RSV infection. In the section on influenza, the new recommendations include the addition of oseltamivir (to amantadine and rimantadine) for prophylaxis of all patients without influenza illness and oseltamivir and zanamivir (to amantadine and rimantadine) as treatment for patients who are acutely ill with influenza in a unit where an influenza outbreak is recognized. In addition to the revised recommendations, the guideline contains new sections on pertussis and lower respiratory tract infections caused by adenovirus and human parainfluenza viruses and refers readers to the source of updated information about prevention and control of severe acute respiratory syndrome.
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            Current cancer situation in China: good or bad news from the 2018 Global Cancer Statistics?

            Cancer is the leading cause of death in China and depicting the cancer pattern of China would provide basic knowhows on how to tackle it more effectively. In this study we have reviewed several reports of cancer burden, including the Global cancer statistics 2018 and Cancer statistics in China, 2015, along with the GLOBCAN 2018 online database, to investigate the differences of cancer patterns between China, the United States (USA) and the United Kingdom (UK). An estimated 4.3 million new cancer cases and 2.9 million new cancer deaths occurred in China in 2018. Compared to the USA and UK, China has lower cancer incidence but a 30% and 40% higher cancer mortality than the UK and USA, among which 36.4% of the cancer-related deaths were from the digestive tract cancers (stomach, liver, and esophagus cancer) and have relatively poorer prognoses. In comparison, the digestive cancer deaths only took up ≤ 5% of the total cancer deaths in either USA or UK. Other reasons for the higher mortality in China may be the low rate of early-stage cancers at diagnosis and non-uniformed clinical cancer treatment strategies performed by different regions. China is undergoing the cancer transition stage where the cancer spectrum is changing from developing country to developed country, with a rapidly increase cancer burden of colorectal, prostate, female breast cancers in addition to a high occurrence of infection-related and digestive cancers. The incidence of westernized lifestyle-related cancers in China (i.e. colorectal cancer, prostate, bladder cancer) has risen but the incidence of the digestive cancers has decreased from 2000 to 2011. An estimated 40% of the risk factors can be attributed to environmental and lifestyle factors either in China or other developed countries. Tobacco smoking is the single most important carcinogenic risk factor in China, contributing to ~ 24.5% of cancers in males. Chronic infection is another important preventable cancer contributor which is responsible for ~ 17% of cancers. Comprehensive prevention and control strategies in China should include effective tobacco-control policy, recommendations for healthier lifestyles, along with enlarging the coverage of effective screening, educating, and vaccination programs to better sensitize greater awareness control to the general public.
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              Chemoradiotherapy with capecitabine versus fluorouracil for locally advanced rectal cancer: a randomised, multicentre, non-inferiority, phase 3 trial.

              Fluorouracil-based chemoradiotherapy is regarded as a standard perioperative treatment in locally advanced rectal cancer. We investigated the efficacy and safety of substituting fluorouracil with the oral prodrug capecitabine. This randomised, open-label, multicentre, non-inferiority, phase 3 trial began in March, 2002, as an adjuvant trial comparing capecitabine-based chemoradiotherapy with fluorouracil-based chemoradiotherapy, in patients aged 18 years or older with pathological stage II-III locally advanced rectal cancer from 35 German institutions. Patients in the capecitabine group were scheduled to receive two cycles of capecitabine (2500 mg/m(2) days 1-14, repeated day 22), followed by chemoradiotherapy (50·4 Gy plus capecitabine 1650 mg/m(2) days 1-38), then three cycles of capecitabine. Patients in the fluorouracil group received two cycles of bolus fluorouracil (500 mg/m(2) days 1-5, repeated day 29), followed by chemoradiotherapy (50·4 Gy plus infusional fluorouracil 225 mg/m(2) daily), then two cycles of bolus fluorouracil. The protocol was amended in March, 2005, to allow a neoadjuvant cohort in which patients in the capecitabine group received chemoradiotherapy (50·4 Gy plus capecitabine 1650 mg/m(2) daily) followed by radical surgery and five cycles of capecitabine (2500 mg/m(2) per day for 14 days) and patients in the fluorouracil group received chemoradiotherapy (50·4 Gy plus infusional fluorouracil 1000 mg/m(2) days 1-5 and 29-33) followed by radical surgery and four cycles of bolus fluorouracil (500 mg/m(2) for 5 days). Patients were randomly assigned to treatment group in a 1:1 ratio using permuted blocks, with stratification by centre and tumour stage. The primary endpoint was overall survival; analyses were done based on all patients with post-randomisation data. Non-inferiority of capecitabine in terms of 5-year overall survival was tested with a 12·5% margin. This trial is registered with, number NCT01500993. Between March, 2002, and December, 2007, 401 patients were randomly allocated; 392 patients were evaluable (197 in the capecitabine group, 195 in the fluorouracil group), with a median follow-up of 52 months (IQR 41-72). 5-year overall survival in the capecitabine group was non-inferior to that in the fluorouracil group (76% [95% CI 67-82] vs 67% [58-74]; p=0·0004; post-hoc test for superiority p=0·05). 3-year disease-free survival was 75% (95% CI 68-81) in the capecitabine group and 67% (59-73) in the fluorouracil group (p=0·07). Similar numbers of patients had local recurrences in each group (12 [6%] in the capecitabine group vs 14 [7%] in the fluorouracil group, p=0·67), but fewer patients developed distant metastases in the capecitabine group (37 [19%] vs 54 [28%]; p=0·04). Diarrhoea was the most common adverse event in both groups (any grade: 104 [53%] patients in the capecitabine group vs 85 [44%] in the fluorouracil group; grade 3-4: 17 [9%] vs four [2%]). Patients in the capecitabine group had more hand-foot skin reactions (62 [31%] any grade, four [2%] grade 3-4 vs three [2%] any grade, no grade 3-4), fatigue (55 [28%] any grade, no grade 3-4 vs 29 [15%], two [1%] grade 3-4), and proctitis (31 [16%] any grade, one [<1%] grade 3-4 vs ten [5%], one [<1%] grade 3-4) than did those in the fluorouracil group, whereas leucopenia was more frequent with fluorouracil than with capecitabine (68 [35%] any grade, 16 [8%] grade 3-4 vs 50 [25%] any grade, three [2%] grade 3-4). Capecitabine could replace fluorouracil in adjuvant or neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy regimens for patients with locally advanced rectal cancer. Roche Pharma AG (Grenzach-Wyhlen, Germany). Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                The Oncologist
                John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (Hoboken, USA )
                27 April 2020
                June 2020
                : 25
                : 6 ( doiID: 10.1002/onco.v25.6 )
                : e936-e945
                [ 1 ] Medical Oncology Department, Alzahra Hospital Dubai Dubai United Arab Emirates
                [ 2 ] Department of Medicine, University of Sharjah Sharjah United Arab Emirates
                [ 3 ] Emirates Oncology Society Dubai United Arab Emirates
                [ 4 ] Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, Medicine, McMaster University Hamilton Ontario Canada
                [ 5 ] Medicine, McMaster University Hamilton Ontario Canada
                [ 6 ] Department of Hematology, Kuwait Cancer Control Center Kuwait
                [ 7 ] Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto Toronto Ontario Canada
                [ 8 ] Department of Infectious Diseases, Infection Control, and Employee Health, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston Texas USA
                [ 9 ] Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston Texas USA
                [ 10 ] Department of Breast Medical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston Texas USA
                [ 11 ] Min‐Sheng General Hospital Taoyuan City Taiwan
                [ 12 ] Divisions of Radiation Oncology and Medical Sciences, National Cancer Center Singapore Singapore
                [ 13 ] Oncology Academic Program, Duke‐NUS Medical School Singapore
                [ 14 ] Cong Hua's Institute Singapore
                [ 15 ] Department of Oncology, Juravinski Cancer Centre, McMaster University Hamilton Ontario Canada
                [ 16 ] Windsor Regional Cancer Center Windsor Ontario Canada
                [ 17 ] Department of Oncology, Schulich School of Medicine, University of Western Ontario London Ontario Canada
                [ 18 ] Department of Oncology and Hemato‐Oncology University of Milan Milan Italy
                [ 19 ] Division of Early Drug Development for Innovative Therapy, University of Milan Milan Italy
                [ 20 ] European Institute of Oncology Milan Italy
                [ 21 ] IRCCS, University of Milano Milan Italy
                [ 22 ] Vanderbilt‐Ingram Cancer Center Nashville Tennessee USA
                [ 23 ] West Cancer Center, University of Tennessee Memphis Tennessee USA
                [ 24 ] Department of Radiation and Medical Oncology, Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University Wuhan People's Republic of China
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: Humaid O. Al‐Shamsi, M.D., M.R.C.P. (UK), F.R.C.P.(C), F.A.C.P., University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Telephone: +971506315388; e‐mail: Humaid.Al-Shamsi@
                © 2020 The Authors. The Oncologist published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of AlphaMed Press.

                This is an open access article under the terms of the License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non‐commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 2, Pages: 10, Words: 8113
                Funded by: F. Hoffmann‐La Roche , open-funder-registry 10.13039/100007013;
                Funded by: Khalifa Foundation ‐ Abu Dhabi ‐ United Arab Emirates
                Global Health and Cancer
                Global Health and Cancer
                Custom metadata
                June 2020
                Converter:WILEY_ML3GV2_TO_JATSPMC version:5.8.4 mode:remove_FC converted:11.06.2020

                Oncology & Radiotherapy

                sars‐cov‐2, pandemic, neoplasm, influenza, covid‐19, coronavirus


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