Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Lung Cancer and COVID-19: Effect on Treatment Scheduling

By: Hillary Ojeda
Posted: Monday, October 19, 2020

According to a small study published in Thoracic Cancer, 9.1% of patients with lung cancer experienced a delay in cancer treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, according to Tadashi Mio, MD, PhD, of the National Hospital Organization Kyoto Medical Center, Japan, and colleagues, no patients receiving molecular targeted agents experienced a delay in their treatment. A larger sample and a longer time frame would strengthen the study findings, the investigators noted.

“In most cases, a treatment delay was requested by the patient, suggesting that lung cancer patients had more COVID-19–related anxiety than expected,” the authors concluded.

For this study, the authors retrospectively reviewed the data of patients with lung cancer undergoing treatment at the National Hospital Organization Kyoto Medical Center between March 1, 2020, and May 31, 2020. The patients were assigned to groups corresponding to whether or not their treatment schedule was delayed. Data for a total of 165 patients, who were mostly male, were reviewed. A total of 133 patients were treated at the outpatient clinic. Of those patients, 33, 76, and 56 patients had received cytotoxic chemotherapy with or without  immune checkpoint inhibitors, immune checkpoint inhibitor monotherapy, and molecular targeted agents, respectively.

The treatments for 15 patients (9.1%) were delayed during the pandemic, and they received more immune checkpoint inhibitor monotherapies than those without delays. Additionally, none of the patients who received molecular targeted agents experienced a delay. The authors also found that the treatments of most patients had been delayed because they requested it. In other cases, two doctors recommended delays, and a third patient’s family recommended a delay in treatment.

The authors acknowledged, however, that their study was limited for several reasons. First, it was conducted in a single center. Additionally, COVID-19 has affected different regions differently and could cause more delay requests in areas with higher infection rates.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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