Objectives: Healthcare resources have been mobilized to combat the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. The Thoracic Domain of the Asian Society for Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery reports a consensus statement on the provision of thoracic cancer surgery during this pandemic.
Methods: A Thoracic Experts Panel was convened by the Society. A consensus on the provision, safety, and setting of thoracic cancer surgery during the pandemic was obtained through a Delphi process.
Results: Responses were received from 26 panel members (96% response rate) from 10 regions across Asia. The Society recommended that elective thoracic cancer surgery services may need to be reduced or postponed if medical resources were needed for COVID-19 patients, especially intensive care unit beds and ventilators. However, thoracic cancer surgery should proceed as normal for all solid tumors, without restrictions based on disease stage, availability of non-surgical treatment options, or patient condition (unless there is a high likelihood of postoperative intensive care unit stay). Aerosol-forming procedures should be avoided intra- and perioperatively. The surgical approach does not make a difference in terms of safety. Services for thoracic cancer patients should be offered only in hospitals that maintain isolation wards for patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.
Conclusions: Services for patients with thoracic cancer should be maintained during the COVID-19 pandemic. The position of the Society is that thoracic surgeons have a responsibility to perform good surgical management of thoracic cancer during the pandemic, to advocate for patients' rights to receive it, and to safeguard patients and staff from infection.