Innovative countermeasures can maintain cancer care continuity during the coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic in Korea

Soohyeon Lee, Ah Reum Lim, Min Ja Kim, Yoon Ji Choi, Ju Won Kim, Kyong Hwa Park, Sang Won Shin, Yeul Hong Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Even though Korea was known to have the highest number of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) infection in the early phase of the pandemic, Korea was able to successfully flatten the curve in a short period of time without extreme measures. We compared the status of cancer management before and after COVID-19 and analysed how cancer care continuity was maintained in Korea. PATIENTS AND METHODS: We investigated the medical records on the number of cancer diagnosis, cancer surgery, radiation therapy and scheduled chemotherapy conducted in Korea University Anam Hospital from January 1 to April 30, 2019 and from the same period in 2020. We also collected the data of metastatic cancer patients who were hospitalised due to respiratory disease. RESULTS: Of all diagnoses, 1694 cancer diagnoses were made in the study period of 2019, and 1445 diagnoses in 2020 (decreased by 14.7%); the cancer surgery performed 830 and 800 cases; the set-up for radiation therapy decreased from 185 to 140 cases; the number of systemic chemotherapies for metastatic cancer patients treated in department of medical oncology increased from 2555 to 2878 cases. Among hospitalised patients, emergency centre visit, intensive care unit admission, discharge after recovery and death reveal no drastic changes. CONCLUSIONS: Routine cancer care for patients with metastatic cancer has been maintained without significant difference before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The Korean government's innovative countermeasures in the early phase of outbreak made it possible for cancer care practitioners to provide cancer patients with regular care under the standard infection control protocol.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-75
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Volume136
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sep 1

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Continuity of patient care
  • Metastatic cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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