When to Operate, Hesitate and Reintegrate: Society of Gynecologic Oncology Surgical Considerations during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Gynecol Oncol. 2020 Aug;158(2):236-243. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2020.06.001. Epub 2020 Jun 6.


The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged our ability to provide timely surgical care for our patients. In response, the U.S. Surgeon General, the American College of Srugeons, and other surgical professional societies recommended postponing elective surgical procedures and proceeding cautiously with cancer procedures that may require significant hospital resources and expose vulnerable patients to the virus. These challenges have particularly distressing for women with a gynecologic cancer diagnosis and their providers. Currently, circumstances vary greatly by region and by hospital, depending on COVID-19 prevalence, case mix, hospital type, and available resources. Therefore, COVID-19-related modifications to surgical practice guidelines must be individualized. Special consideration is necessary to evaluate the appropriateness of procedural interventions, recognizing the significant resources and personnel they require. Additionally, the pandemic may occur in waves, with patient demand for surgery ebbing and flowing accordingly. Hospitals, cancer centers and providers must prepare themselves to meet this demand. The purpose of this white paper is to highlight all phases of gynecologic cancer surgical care during the COVID-19 pandemic and to illustrate when it is best to operate, to hestitate, and reintegrate surgery. Triage and prioritization of surgical cases, preoperative COVID-19 testing, peri-operative safety principles, and preparations for the post-COVID-19 peak and surgical reintegration are reviewed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus / isolation & purification
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / methods
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / standards
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Coronavirus Infections / transmission
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / surgery*
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / virology*
  • Gynecologic Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Gynecologic Surgical Procedures / standards
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • Infection Control / standards
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional / prevention & control
  • Pandemics / prevention & control*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / transmission
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Surgical Oncology / methods*
  • Surgical Oncology / standards