Title: COVID-19 Pandemic Delaying Treatments of Hematologic Cancers
By: John Schieszer
Institutional restrictions due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic are taking a large toll on patients with hematologic cancers. Some medical centers have canceled treatments and all centers have altered their policies and procedures. Starting in March, elective and semielective surgical procedures at most hospitals throughout the United States were put on hold, and uncertainty remains regarding when these procedures will start up again. . .
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Because there is no way to estimate the duration of the current disruption, clinicians currently are in a difficult position. The situation is a very fluid one and literally is changing on an hourly basis. “In many parts of the country, as part of the attempt to free up [operating rooms], recovery rooms, and [intensive care units], elective surgery is being deferred,” said Henry I. Miller, MD, who is a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco, California, in an interview with Heamtology Advisor. “I don’t know how widespread that interpretation is or to what extent other non-emergency cancer surgery is being delayed. It’s a very hard risk-risk calculation. Cancers do metastasize, after all. These delays are very hard on patients.”
Dr Miller went on to explain that the pandemic may cause some patients may consider medical tourism, which has its own inherent risks. As clinicians know all too well there are some patients who just want their tumor removed as quickly as possible and may be willing to travel significant distances for treatment. “One thing I’ve wondered is whether a patient in that predicament could go to a hospital in a part of the country not severely affected by the coronavirus and have the procedure done there. A major teaching hospital might be able to schedule it quickly if they were provided the scans and pathology report,” said Dr Miller. . .