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. 2020 May 11;1-7.
doi: 10.1007/s13193-020-01086-7. Online ahead of print.

To Do or Not to Do?-A Review of Cancer Surgery Triage Guidelines in COVID-19 Pandemic

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To Do or Not to Do?-A Review of Cancer Surgery Triage Guidelines in COVID-19 Pandemic

Rajesh S Shinde et al. Indian J Surg Oncol. .
Free PMC article


COVID-19 pandemic has emerged as a global health emergency involving more than 200 countries so far. The number of affected population is on rising, so is the mortality. This crisis has overwhelmed the healthcare infrastructures in many affected countries. Due to overall rising cancer incidence and specific concerns, a cohort of cancer patients forms a distinct subset of the population in whom a correct and timely treatment has a huge impact on the outcome. During this period, oncology care is definitely affected owing to many factors like lockdowns, reduced beds and deferral of elective cases to halt the spread of the pandemic. Surgery remains the best line of defence in many solid organ tumours especially in early stage and is potentially curative. China, the source of this pandemic, has taken more than 3 months to enter the post transitional phase of this pandemic. Deferring cancer surgeries for this long period may have a direct impact on the long-term outcomes of cancer patients. Many surgical oncology associations across the globe have come up with triage guidelines for surgical care of cancer patients; however, these are based on expert opinion rather than actual data. Herein, we intend to review these guidelines with respect to the risk of disease progression in cancer patients. In the absence of actual data on cancer surgery care during this pandemic, clinical decisions should be based on careful consideration of disease-related and patient-related factors. While some of the cancer surgeries can be safely delayed for some time, how long we can delay surgeries safely cannot be answered/ explained by any means. Thorough evaluation and discussion by an expert and experienced multidisciplinary team appears to be the most effective way forward.

Keywords: Cancer; Guidelines; Surgery; Triage.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of InterestNone

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