Korean J Hosp Palliat Care.  2021 Mar;24(1):66-68. 10.14475/jhpc.2021.24.1.66.

COVID-19 and Cancer: Questions to Be Answered

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea

Abstract

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak to be a pandemic on March 12, 2020. In Korea, there have been 24,027 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 420 deaths as of October 3, 2020. The clinical spectrum of COVID-19 ranges from asymptomatic infection to death. Cancer care in this pandemic has radically changed. The literature was reviewed. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it urgently necessary to profoundly re-organize cancer patients’ care without compromising cancer outcomes. Several important questions in regard to COVID-19 infection in cancer patients have emerged. Are patients with cancer at a higher risk of COVID-19 infection? Are they at an increased risk of mortality and severe illness when infected with COVID-19? Does anticancer treatment affect the course of COVID-19? Based on the existing research, cancer patients with immunosuppression are vulnerable to COVID-19 infection, and cancer patients are more likely to experience severe COVID-19. However, chemotherapy and major surgery do not seem to be predictors of hospitalization or severe disease. Korean background data on patients with cancer and COVID-19 are lacking. Prospective multicenter studies on the outcomes of patients with cancer and COVID-19 should be conducted.

Keyword

COVID-19; Pandemics; Neoplasms; Multicenter study
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