A Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) Survivorship Study Group provided recommendations for research and practice development in 3 areas related to cancer survivorship care. The recommendations are based on responses to a survey, completed by a group of clinician members of MASCC, covering issues related to the impact the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic had on cancer survivorship care. The recommendations were published in Supportive Care in Cancer.
Dramatic changes in cancer survivorship care as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic were reported by an international group of 38 survey respondents that included delays in posttreatment follow-up care and an increased reliance on video conferencing or telephone communication instead of in-person appointments.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, “survivors are in unprecedented situations of being ‘more on the outside looking in’, even with the advance of telehealth solutions,” the members of the MASCC group noted.
Although the study group concluded that conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic have jeopardized the consistent, appropriate treatment and follow-up of vulnerable cancer survivors, they noted that “these challenges have also given us opportunities to identify, develop, test, and implement creative solutions and to develop guidelines to facilitate consistency in survivorship care.”
The MASCC group identified the following 3 areas as priorities for further research and practice development:
- Standardized tools to triage the immediate physical, psychosocial, and spiritual needs of cancer survivors to facilitate prioritization of care;
- Standardized recommendations regarding the use of telecommunication in cancer survivorship care, including considerations related to patient, caregiver, and clinician training; overcoming system and organizational barriers; and addressing related ethical and cultural issues; and
- “Decentralized” alternative models in which cancer survivorship care occurs outside the tertiary care setting and is led by primary care providers or nurses or involves a shared-care or self-management approach.
The MASCC Survivorship Study Group concluded that “Moving beyond the pandemic, MASCC should serve as one of the most accessible global platforms for members to partner and develop recommendations, standards, and policies to narrow the current gaps in cancer survivorship, with an ultimate goal to improve the quality of survivorship care as a whole.”
Chan A, Ashbury F, Fitch MI, Koczwara B, Chan RJ; MASCC Survivorship Study Group. Cancer survivorship care during COVID-19 — perspectives and recommendations from the MASCC survivorship study group. Support Care Cancer. 2020;28(8):3485-3488. doi:10.1007/s00520-020-05544-4