The effect of natural disasters on cancer care: a systematic review

Lancet Oncol. 2018 Sep;19(9):e482-e499. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(18)30412-1.


As the incidence of cancer and the frequency of extreme weather events rise, disaster mitigation is becoming increasingly relevant to oncology care. In this systematic Review, we aimed to investigate the effect of natural disasters on cancer care and the associated health effects on patients with cancer. We searched MEDLINE, Embase, Scopus, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Web of Science, and ScienceDirect for articles published between database inception and November 12, 2016. Articles identifying the effect of natural disasters on oncology services or the associated health implications for patients with cancer were included. Only articles published in English were included. Data extraction was done by two authors independently and then verified by all authors. The effects of disaster events on oncology services, survival outcomes, and psychological issues were assessed. Of the 4593 studies identified, only 85 articles met all the eligibility criteria. Damage to infrastructure, communication systems and medication, and medical record losses substantially disrupt oncology care. The effect of extreme weather events on survival outcomes is limited to only a small number of studies, often with inadequate follow-up periods. Natural disasters cause substantial interruption to the provision of oncology care. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first systematic Review to assess the existing evidence base on the health effects of natural disaster events on cancer care. We advocate for the consideration of patients with cancer during disaster planning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / organization & administration*
  • Disaster Planning / organization & administration*
  • Emergency Medicine / organization & administration*
  • Health Facility Administration
  • Health Personnel / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology / organization & administration*
  • Natural Disasters*
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*