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CML and COVID-19: Treatment Lessons Learned

By: Sarah Campen, PharmD
Posted: Friday, August 28, 2020

Patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) 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 the epidemic 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 prior to cancer treatment; for patients with symptoms, a high-resolution CT scan of the lungs was requested. Patients with hematologic cancers underwent a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction test as well. All patients and their families received education regarding protective measures and self-care, including use of disinfectants and masks, proper handwashing technique, and other hygienic methods.

Of the patients followed in the study, 218 had solid tumors and 61 patients had hematologic cancers (including 2 with a history of CML and treatment with nilotinib). COVID-19 infection was confirmed in seven patients with the following cancer types: colon cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, glioblastoma multiforme, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. A total of four 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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