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AACR COVID-19: Changes in Lung Cancer Management

By: Julia Fiederlein
Posted: Thursday, August 13, 2020

In a prospective observational study, more than half of patients with lung cancer experienced changes in their management plans as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Suzanne Kazandjian, MD, of McGill University Healthcare Centre, Montreal, and colleagues. The study, which was presented during the 2020 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Virtual Meeting on COVID-19 and Cancer (Abstract PO-010), evaluated the extent of these changes.   

“Efforts are ongoing to limit exposure of patients with lung cancer to the health care system,” the investigators remarked. “Given the preliminary findings that active cancer treatment is not associated with increased complications from COVID-19, lung cancer treatments and surveillance visits should continue to proceed with caution, and oncology care providers should continue to carefully proceed with evidence-based care in lung cancer.”

The clinical data from 275 patients with either small cell (13.5%) or non–small cell (86.5%) lung cancer were assessed between March 2 and April 30, 2020. Most patients (76.5%) were receiving active treatment: 35.1%, chemotherapy; 21.8%, oral agents; 31.8%, immune checkpoint inhibitors; and 11.4%, combination therapy. 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than half of patients (57%) experienced at least one change in their treatment plan. The most common changes reported by the investigators were delay (39.7%) or cessation (14.9%) of palliative treatment. Palliative care was resumed after an average of 36 days; however, 3% of patients opted to permanently cease this treatment.

Approximately 26% of patients experienced a change in dosing and scheduling as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Changing the administration of pembrolizumab to every 6 weeks or durvalumab to every 4 weeks was among the most common alterations. In 2.5% of patients, the administration of adjuvant chemotherapy was delayed for an average of 42 days. Surveillance scans or visits were deferred or cancelled in 6.6% of the study population.

Disclosure: No information regarding conflicts of interest was provided.



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