Practical strategies to manage cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic: Saudi Oncology Pharmacy Assembly Experts recommendations

J Oncol Pharm Pract. 2020 Jun 24;1078155220935564. doi: 10.1177/1078155220935564. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: During COVID-19 pandemic, cancer patients are considered one of the most vulnerable to infection since they tend to have advanced age, multiple comorbidities, and are often immunosuppressed by their cancer or therapy. Hence, the Saudi Oncology Pharmacy Assembly has issued recommendations to reduce the frequency of cancer patients' visits to oncology centers during the pandemic while maintaining the access to cancer therapy and minimize the risk of exposure to coronavirus disease.

Materials and methods: A qualitative methodological approach was conducted in April 2020 using a virtual panel discussion for collection of recommendations.

Results: A total of 12 expert oncology pharmacy practitioners shared their knowledge and experiences in managing oncology patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. The participants recognized many fundamental recommendations that were already applied in many cancer centers since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. On that basis, the panelists developed eight practice-related recommendations for action, with a main focus on cancer treatment modification.

Conclusions: In conclusion, delivering cancer care during the COVID-19 pandemic carries significant challenges. This paper addressed suggestions to properly manage cancer patients during difficult times. Implementing changes in practice mandates a national collaborative effort from different sectors to guarantee the quality and continuity of care. The SOPA expert panel developed these recommendations, to ultimately contribute in maintaining access to cancer therapy while minimizing the risk of COVID-19 exposure.

Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus; SOPA; cancer; pandemic.