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What do you need to keep in mind regarding delaying cancer treatment due to COVID-19

What do you need to keep in mind regarding delaying cancer treatment due to COVID-19?

July 9, 2020

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Risk and benefits of delaying cancer treatment

No matter what type or stage of cancer it is, pursuing treatment or follow-up during the COVID-19 pandemic increases the risks of exposure and benefits of treatment. There are general guidelines to follow and each person is given unique treatment. This is the reason, it is important to get an understanding of the benefits and risks for individuals while making the final decision. To make an informed choice, you need to contact the best cancer hospital in Ludhiana.

 

What are the benefits of cancer treatment?

  • The ability to “cure” cancer if treated promptly
  • Offering relief of symptoms due to cancer
  • Extending life when cancer cannot be cured
  • Avoiding complications of untreated cancer which triggers emergency (such as intestinal obstruction)

 

General Recommendations on Delaying Treatment

For delaying cancer treatment, general recommendations are given by medical groups. These are based on understanding the risks of COVID-19 infection with cancer progression. Some of the recommendations include:

  • Postponing visits that can be postponed without the added risk
  • Delaying routine follow-up visits
  • Exploring alternatives to face to face visits, such as telemedicine pr video call options
  • Alternative treatment options

For the treatment, if in-person care is needed, researchers have divided the cancer progression without getting treatment of high-risk, low-risk, and medium-risk categories. The treatment needs to start again with just these guidelines and the final decision should be discussed with the oncologist.

 

High-Risk (Ideally, No Delay in Treatment)

 

  • Lung nodules or masses larger than 2 centimeters in diameter
  • Colon cancer when there is a high risk of obstruction
  • Kidney cancer if greater than stage T1b
  • Pancreatic mass suspicious for cancer Liver mass suspicious for cancer
  • Ovarian mass suspicious for cancer
  • Bladder cancer which has invaded the muscle
  • Stage 1B cervical cancer
  • Sarcomas that are not low-grade

 

  • Small cell lung cancer
  • Sarcomas that are not low-grade
  • Testicular cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Most head and neck cancers
  • Blood-related cancers (eg. leukemia, lymphomas, or multiple myeloma)

 

Situations where radiation therapy is needed:

  • Lung cancer
  • Rectal cancer

 

Medium-Risk (Delay of up to 3 Months is considered)

In some situations where surgery is delayed:

  • Colon cancer when the risk of obstruction due to the tumor is low
  • High-risk prostate cancer
  • Low-risk melanoma
  • Stage IA2 cervical cancer

In some situations where chemotherapy is delayed:

  • Stage 4 or metastatic breast cancer
  • Stage 4 or metastatic colon cancer
  • Stage 4 or metastatic lung cancer

 

In some situations where radiation therapy is delayed:

  • Adjuvant radiation for uterine cancer

 

Low-Risk (Safe to Delay Treatment for More Than 3 Months)

In some situations where surgery is delayed:

  • Non-melanoma skin cancers
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Kidney tumors less than 3 centimeters in diameter
  • Cervical cancer that is stage IA1
  • Type I uterine cancer
  • Low-grade bladder cancer
  • Some postmenopausal breast cancers
  • Prostate cancer that is low or medium-risk

 

In some situations where chemotherapy is delayed:

  • Chronic blood-related cancers like chronic lymphocytic leukemia

In some situations where radiation therapy is delayed:

Some breast cancer cases