Key Takeaways from the Session: Effects of the COVID Pandemic on Cancer Treatment
KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE ONLINE SESSION ON THE EFFECTS OF THE COVID PANDEMIC ON CANCER TREATMENT HELD ON NOVEMBER 18, 2022 AS PART OF LONDON GLOBAL CANCER WEEK
- Raúl Murillo, Director, Centro Javeriano de Oncología, Hospital Universitario San Ignacio, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Pontificia Universidad Jveriana, Bogotá, Colombia
Dr. Raul Murillo discussed the incidence of Cancer in Colombia and the changes in presentation of patients with cancer as a result of the pandemic. In addition to this, he discussed the shifts that occurred in the stage of presentation throughout the course of the pandemic, the significant drop in the number of patients presenting for cancer screening during the peak of the pandemic, and the rapid recovery of patient numbers to their pre-pandemic levels after COVID-19 came to an end.
- Fawad ul Qamar, Head of Clinical and Radiation Oncology, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre, Peshawar, Pakistan
Dr. Fawad ul Qamar provided a comprehensive account of the peaks and troughts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Pakistan. He focused particularly on the adjustments made in the treatment of cancer at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre as a direct result of the pandemic. These included a switch to hypofractionated radiotherapy regimes, conversion of intravenous to oral chemotherapy protocols, the institution of telemedicine, and augmentation of day case surgery services. He also shed light on the importance of virtual MDTs, and the practicality of implementing this solution in a cost-effective manner in the developing world.
- Deborah Mukherji Medical Oncologist, Clemenceau Medical Center, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
During her talk, Dr. Deborah Mukherjee highlighted the need to rethink the goals of cancer research on a worldwide scale following the COVID-19 pandemic. She elaborated ways in which the COVID-19 and Cancer task force has engaged with worldwide stakeholders, particularly those from low and income countries, to rethink the objectives for cancer research in light of the pandemic. She also discussed challenges with cancer registries in developing countries, the need to see cancer control as an investment, and the establishment of treatment guidelines in accordance with available resources.
- Dorothy Lombe, Consultant Clinical and Radiation Oncologist, Cancer Diseases Hospital, Lusaka, Zambia
Dr. Dorothy Lombe discussed the silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing in particular on accelerating future technological collaboration in the future. Her presentation centred on the reality that Africa, with its 1.2 billion inhabitants, imports 99 percent of its vaccines, and on the disparities in access to vaccines that became obvious during the COVID-19 pandemic. This, in turn, may lead to a future seismic shift in the development of vaccines on the African continent.
Session Chair, Dr. Aasim Yusuf gave an overview of the COVID-19 pandemic in Pakistan and his own institution’s response to the pandemic.
Session Chair Prof. Richard Sullivan gave an overview of the Covid-19 and Cancer Global Taskforce force and the work that it has done over the past 2.5 years. The Covid-19 and Cancer Global Taskforce is a group of top clinicians around the world who specialise in cancer care. In addition to an active education and awareness component that includes webinars and clinical case teaching, the Taskforce has published over a hundred research articles on the treatment of cancer patients and COVID-19 mitigation in cancer care. The COVID-19 and Cancer Taskforce is conducting research to develop a globally representative dataset on the innovations in cancer care as a result of COVID-19; assess environmental and circumstantial differences in which these innovations have occurred; and provide recommendations for maintaining this momentum after the pandemic.
The session concluded with an open discussion followed by a Q&A session. The session was broadcast live on Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre’s Facebook page.