Objective: Due to the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, otolaryngologists face novel challenges when treating patients with head and neck cancer. The purpose of this review is to evaluate the current evidence surrounding the treatment of these patients during this pandemic and to provide evidence-based recommendations with attention to increased risk in this setting.
Data sources: A review of the literature was performed with PubMed. Because recently published articles on this topic may not yet be indexed into PubMed, otolaryngology journals were hand searched for relevant articles. Guidelines from national organizations were reviewed to identify additional relevant sources of information.
Review methods: Two groups of search terms were created: one with terms related to COVID-19 and another with terms related to head and neck cancer and its management. Searches were performed of all terms in each group as well as combinations of terms between groups. Searches and subsequent exclusion of articles were performed in accordance with the PRISMA guidelines (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses). Additional articles were identified after relevant journals and guidelines from national organizations were reviewed.
Conclusions: Patients with head and neck mucosal malignancy require continued treatment despite the current pandemic state. Care must be taken at all stages of treatment to minimize the risk to patients and health care workers while maintaining focus on minimizing use of limited resources.
Implications for practice: Patient care plans should be guided by best available evidence to optimize outcomes while maintaining a safe environment in the setting of this pandemic.
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; head and neck cancer; novel coronavirus.
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