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David S. Ettinger, MD, FACP, FCCP


COVID-19 and NSCLC: How Resilient Are Patients With Advanced Lung Cancer?

By: Lauren Harrison, MS
Posted: Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Patients with non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) have shown resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic, reporting less depression and anxiety when compared with people without cancer. These results were published in the JNCCN–Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network by Barbara L. Andersen PhD, of The Ohio State University in Columbus, and colleagues.

“Although not immune to the stresses of COVID-19, data show resilience for otherwise heavily burdened patients with NSCLC—ones unable to ‘shelter in place’ but leaving home regularly to receive treatment,” concluded the authors.

The research team enrolled patients with advanced NSCLC at the time of diagnosis for this cohort study. There were 76 patients with follow-up between April 2020 and July 2020, approximately 1 year after receiving their diagnoses, who were assessed again regarding COVID-19 perceptions. The control group consisted of 67 people with sociodemographics and smoking histories similar to those of the NSCLC group. COVID-19 perceptions, social distancing, and depressive and anxiety symptoms were assessed in all patients using validated screening instruments.

Among the patients with NSCLC, symptoms of depression and anxiety were greater at the time of diagnosis than during COVID-19. At diagnosis, 17.1% were found to have moderate depressive symptoms compared with 11.8% during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the patients with NSCLC reported fewer depressive (β = –0.206, P = .020) and anxiety symptoms (β = –0.196, P = .023) than those without cancer. Approximately 30.3% of the control group reported moderate anxiety symptoms compared with 13.2% of the NSCLC group.

The groups reported no significant differences in their concern, understanding, or perceived control over the COVID-19 pandemic. However, members of the control group anticipated that the COVID-19 pandemic would last significantly longer (β = –0.278, P = .004) than did those in the NSCLC group. Patients with NSCLC reported to be more successful at social distancing and less stressed about COVID-19 than those in the control group.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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