Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Breast Cancer and COVID-19: Treatment Lessons Learned

By: Sarah Campen, PharmD
Posted: Monday, September 14, 2020

Patients with breast cancer may safely be treated during the COVID-19 pandemic by taking some precautionary measures, according to an article published in the International Journal of Clinical Oncology. Mozaffar Aznab, MD, of the Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, Iran, discussed his experience treating 279 patients with cancer during this pandemic in Iran from January 21 to April 19, 2020.

“By observing protection health principles; promoting self-care behavior; and providing proper equipment and diagnostic tests for patients, their companions, and health-care personnel, cancer treatment can be continued as usual and without anxiety,” he stated.

In his experience, Dr. Aznab noted that patients with solid tumors and no symptoms related to COVID-19 received a chest x-ray before cancer treatment; for patients with symptoms, a high-resolution CT scan of the lungs was requested. All patients and their families received education regarding protective measures and self-care, including the use of disinfectants and masks, proper handwashing technique, and other hygienic methods.

Of the patients followed in the study, 218 had solid tumors (92 with breast cancer) and 61 patients had hematologic cancers. For those with breast cancer, treatment was started with the same usual dose and at the same usual intervals of every 3 weeks, Dr. Aznab commented. Although COVID-19 infection was confirmed in seven patients, none of them had breast cancer. A total of four patients died as a result of COVID-19 infection.

Dr. Aznab recommended proactive prevention of neutropenia in patients receiving cancer treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, he noted, the integration of psychiatric counseling is essential due to the “unprecedented” levels of stress and anxiety observed in patients, their family members, and fellow health-care providers.

Disclosure: The author reported no conflicts of interest.

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