Impact of COVID-19 Outbreak on Cancer Patient Care and Treatment: Data from an Outpatient Oncology Clinic in Lombardy (Italy)

Erica Quaquarini, Giuseppe Saltalamacchia, Daniele Presti, Giulia Caldana, Valentina Tibollo, Alberto Malovini, Raffaella Palumbo, Cristina Maria Teragni, Emanuela Balletti, Ludovica Mollica, Elisa Biscaldi, Mara Frascaroli, Antonio Bernardo, Federico Sottotetti

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Lombardy was the first area in Italy to have an outbreak of coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) at the beginning of 2020. In this context, cancer has been reported as a major risk factor for adverse outcomes and death, so oncology societies have quickly released guidelines on cancer care during the pandemic. The aim of this study was to investigate the management of cancer patients and oncological treatments during the COVID-19 pandemic and to describe the containment measures performed in our outpatient clinic at Pavia (Lombardy). A comparison with the same period of the four previous years (2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016) was also performed. Using our electronic databases, we evaluated the number and characteristics of patients accessing the hospital for anticancer drug infusion from 24 February, 2020 to 30 April, 2020 and the number of radiological exams performed. Although a significant reduction in access for therapy was seen when compared with 2019 (2590 versus 2974, access rate ratio (ARR) = 0.85, p < 0.001), no significant differences in access numbers and ARR was evident between 2020 and 2018, 2017, or 2016 (2590 versus 2626 (ARR = 0.07), 2660 (ARR = 0.99), and 2694 (ARR = 0.96), respectively, p > 0.05). In 2020, 63 patients delayed treatment: 38% for "pandemic fear", 18% for travel restrictions, 13% for quarantine, 18% for flu syndrome other than COVID-19, and 13% for worsening of clinical conditions and death. Only 7/469 patients developed COVID-19. A significant reduction in radiological exams was found in 2020 versus all the other years considered (211 versus 360, 355, 385, 390 for the years 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016, respectively, p < 0.001). The low incidence of COVID-19 among our cancer patients, along with the hospital policy to control infection, enabled safe cancer treatment and a continuum of care in most patients, while a small fraction of patients experienced a therapeutic delay due to patient-related reasons.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2941
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 12 2020


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