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July 2, 2020

Covid-19 Pandemic—An Opportunity to Reduce and Eliminate Low-Value Practices in Oncology?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Oncology, Department of Public Health Sciences, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  • 2Cancer Research Institute, Division of Cancer Care and Epidemiology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  • 3Department of Hematology-Oncology, Civil Service Hospital, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 4Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
JAMA Oncol. Published online July 2, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.2404

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has brought critical challenges to the practice of oncology in many high-income countries (HICs) such as the US and Canada. Measures are now being taken to reduce the flow of patients to cancer centers and hospitals by substituting electronic or telehealth visits for in-person visits wherever feasible, reducing the frequency of follow-up visits, reducing surveillance imaging and other tests, and engaging in discussions about which are the most important anticancer therapies to deliver, if and when capacity to provide treatments become reduced. These are just a few of the measures being taken by health care institutions and physicians to minimize face-to-face patient visits to control the spread of COVID-19 and to optimally deploy health care workers in the health system. These are obviously rational steps to take during a pandemic, especially as new data suggests that patients with cancer may be at a higher risk of death with COVID-19 infections, although there are some uncertainties about the reliability of this information.1

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