The impact of Coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic on the treatment of cancer patients: the first steps in this fight

Gabriela Rahnea-Nita, Dumitru-Cristinel Badiu, Cristian Gabriel Popescu, Valentin-Titus Grigorean, Dragos Serban, Catalin Gabriel Smarandache, Roxana-Andreea Rahnea-Nita, Anda-Natalia Ciuhu, Mihaela Mandu, Liliana-Florina Andronache, Alexandru-Rares Stoian


Background: The new Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) represents a global threat due to its increased mortality, especially among the elderly and people with severe comorbidities, such as cancer.

Objectives: Through the specific measures that have been imposed to reduce the risk of infection and death, the working hypothesis is prepared: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has drastically decreased the hospital admissions of cancer patients, the frequency of hospitalizations and determined an increased mortality rate through the infection with SARS-CoV-2 virus in cancer patients.

Methods: For a period of 16 weeks, the hospitalizations of patients to the Chronic Oncology-Palliative Care Department of “St. Luke” Hospital for Chronic Diseases, Bucharest, were analyzed, being compared to the same period of the previous year and, also, there were patients with symptoms specific to COVID-19 infection, tested for SARS-CoV-2 by means of RT-PCR.

Results: The data analysis shows a 53.7% decrease among hospitalized patients – with 51.4 for day hospitalization and 50.2% for inpatient hospitalization, during the COVID-19 pandemic. 4 patients out of the 477 admitted to the Oncology Department in this period had a positive RT-PCR SARS-CoV-2 test during their hospitalization and 5 patients with symptoms common for both cancer and COVID-19 had a negative result through specific testing (Table I, Table II). Two other patients recorded on the unit were infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus and required admission and treatment in the COVID-19 Department. The willingness of the cancer patient to consult a physician for admission has greatly decreased in the first 16 weeks from the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Conclusion: Cancer patients, although at an increased risk of being infected, did not exhibit severe symptoms, and the evolution of the symptoms and the performance state after the discharge from the COVID-19 department was influenced by the age and the associated comorbidities.


COVID-19; Cancer patients; Clinical Psycho-Oncology; Common symptoms; Hospital admissions; RT-PCR.

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