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Caring for patients with cancer can be difficult at the best of times. The delicate interplay between a complex disease, multidisciplinary management, social barriers, family support, and mental health makes the field of oncology uniquely challenging and rewarding. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its accompanying illness, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a global pandemic. To adequately care for patients, we now must add the pandemic’s accompanying medical, social, and economic challenges to the mosaic of obstacles. Although our commitment to curing patients’ cancer is unwavering, our focus has undeniably shifted. In the pre–COVID-19 era, we aimed to support patients both medically and emotionally through the safest and most effective treatment possible. Today we may be asking ourselves, “How much can I minimize a patient’s contact with the health care system while still providing quality care?” or “Are we willing to accept a slightly higher risk of toxic effects to minimize a patient’s exposure to the virus?” or importantly, “How can I keep patients from feeling isolated while insisting on their social isolation?”
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Cook KA, Kahn JM. Distancing Without Isolating—Connection in the Era of COVID-19. JAMA Oncol. Published online July 23, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.2725
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