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Cancer care for cancer patients with COVID-19

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Cancer management for patients with COVID-19

Updated 23 May 2022

Links to available national and international guidance regarding considerations for cancer management for cancer patients with COVID-19 are provided below. This guidance is intended to support clinical decision-making for cancer patients with both symptomatic and asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Guidance from national and international organisations consider the following:

  • Shared decision making with individual patients - Reach a shared decision with the patient about their treatment. (NICE 2021)
    • Discuss with all patients the risks and benefits of starting, continuing or deferring systemic anticancer treatment. Include in the discussion:
      • factors that may affect their risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19, including underlying conditions, male sex, ethnicity, cancer symptoms and vaccination status
      • that there is uncertainty whether patients who have received systemic anticancer treatment are at increased risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19
      • the possible greater risk of poor outcomes for patients with haematological cancers from COVID-19
      • the possible greater risk of poor outcomes from COVID-19 with increasingly immunosuppressive systemic anticancer treatments. [NICE 2021]
  • Decisions about interrupting anti-cancer treatment in patients with active COVID-19 should be based on a clinical benefit: risk assessment that considers the risk of interrupting cancer treatment versus the still poorly defined risk of adverse COVID-19 outcomes in patients receiving active cancer treatment, while protecting staff from infection. (ASCO 2021NICE 2021)
  • The heterogeneity of cancers, the complexity and number of different cancer treatment regimens, as well as the uncertainties about COVID-19 clinical course in individual patients preclude definite guidelines about cancer therapy management in those who have a positive SARS-CoV-2 test. (NCCN 2021)

These considerations may also be informed by local jurisdictional and health service policies.

Additionally, it is important for cancer patients to notify their cancer team as soon as they test positive to SARS-CoV-2, noting that treatments for COVID-19 are available for immunocompromised patients. These treatments are most effective when given within 5-7 days of onset of COVID-19 symptoms.

Guidance for patients about managing cancer care in the context of COVID-19 infection, including making decisions about their treatment and care if they test positive to COVID-19, is available at Managing your cancer care in the context of COVID-19.

For more information:

 

This page will be updated as further national or international guidance becomes available.

COVID-19 vaccination is available for people aged 5 years and older. For more information, visit Cancer Australia’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about COVID-19 vaccines for people affected by cancer. These FAQs are updated regularly as new information and evidence emerges.

For FAQs in-language, visit www.canceraustralia.gov.au/CALD.

With the assistance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and health experts, Cancer Australia has also developed dedicated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the COVID-19 vaccines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer and complementary FAQs for their healthcare team.