Is there any guidance on which patients may be able to delay chemotherapy during the COVID-19 outbreak? — Name withheld on request

The risks of receiving immunosuppressive chemotherapy, as well as the trend toward increased complications in patients with cancer, have resulted in a lot of patients and oncology health care workers asking this question.

Determining who should continue treatment for their cancer, how/if to modify treatment regimens, and how long treatment can safely be delayed is not an easy determination, and should be done with input from the patient and healthcare team. Here are a few factors to consider:

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  • The risks of delaying treatment (eg, a newly diagnosed acute leukemia vs maintenance therapy for a solid tumor)
  • If less immunosuppressive, effective treatment options are available
  • How to minimize in-person exposure (eg, switching from inpatient to outpatient administered chemotherapy, or changing from parenteral to oral regimens)
  • Patient-specific risk factors, such as other comorbidities
  • If any evidence or guidance is available for the disease setting

At the time of this writing, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) are maintaining resources for oncology health care providers and patients (see Resources Links). The NCCN website also provides some disease-specific recommendations. Both sites are updated frequently, so it is important to check back as new information develops and new recommendations are published.

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Patients can find additional information about COVID-19 and how to protect themselves through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Cancer Society.  Thank you all for your care and dedication to our patients living with cancer, especially during this time, and stay well!

COVID-19 and Cancer Resources
American Cancer Society

American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN)