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FRIDAY, Sept. 18, 2020 (HealthDay News) — More than half of patients have experienced changes in their lung cancer treatment plan as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a research letter published online Sept. 17 in JAMA Oncology.

Arielle Elkrief, M.D., from the McGill University Health Center in Montreal, and colleagues examined changes in lung cancer treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. The extent of changes in the treatment plan were described, and types of changes observed were qualified.

Data were included for 275 patients, of whom 211 were receiving active treatment. The researchers found that 57 percent (121 patients) of those receiving active treatment experienced at least one change in their lung cancer treatment plan; 9.0 percent (19 patients) had more than one change. Most changes included delay or cessation of palliative chemotherapy (39.7 and 14.9 percent, respectively). There was a mean of 36 days for time to resumption of chemotherapy; four patients stopped palliative treatment permanently. Overall, 26.4 percent of patients had changes in dosing and schedule. Delays in adjuvant chemotherapy administration occurred in 2.5 percent of patients, with a mean delay of 42 days. Deferrals or cancellations of surveillance visits owing to the pandemic were experienced by 6.6 percent of patients.

“Our study reinforces that all oncology clinics should track these changes occurring in cancer care because it will become important to evaluate the effect of these changes on clinical outcomes,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to AstraZeneca.

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