Introduction: A pandemic coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, causes COVID-19, a potentially life-threatening respiratory disease. Patients with cancer may have compromised immunity due to their malignancy and/or treatment, and may be at elevated risk of severe COVID-19. Community transmission of COVID-19 could overwhelm health care services, compromising delivery of cancer care. This interim consensus guidance provides advice for clinicians managing patients with cancer during the pandemic.
Main recommendations: During the COVID-19 pandemic: In patients with cancer with fever and/or respiratory symptoms, consider causes in addition to COVID-19, including other infections and therapy-related pneumonitis. For suspected or confirmed COVID-19, discuss temporary cessation of cancer therapy with a relevant specialist. Provide information on COVID-19 for patients and carers. Adopt measures within cancer centres to reduce risk of nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 acquisition; support population-wide social distancing; reduce demand on acute services; ensure adequate staffing; and provide culturally safe care. Measures should be equitable, transparent and proportionate to the COVID-19 threat. Consider the risks and benefits of modifying cancer therapies due to COVID-19. Communicate treatment modifications, and review once health service capacity allows. Consider potential impacts of COVID-19 on the blood supply and availability of stem cell donors. Discuss and document goals of care, and involve palliative care services in contingency planning.
Changes in management as a result of this statement: This interim consensus guidance provides a framework for clinicians managing patients with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic. In view of the rapidly changing situation, clinicians must also monitor national, state, local and institutional policies, which will take precedence.