COVID-19 has spread around the planet, sending billions of people into lockdown as health services struggle to cope. Meanwhile in Asia, where the disease began, the spread continues, in China it seems for now to have passed its peak. Italy, Spain, France, UK, and the US have been the countries more affected in terms of deaths. The coronavirus is more dangerous to the elderly and those with certain pre-existing medical conditions which is precisely the profile of lung cancer patients. Essential cancer services should be delivered but all steps should be taken to protect patients and the health workforce from infection with COVID-19. This presents a major challenge to radiotherapy (RT) departments worldwide. An international panel with expertise in the management of lung cancer in high-volume comprehensive centres has come together to share its experience on COVID-19 preparedness to deliver optimal care in such exceptional circumstances. A comprehensive systematic review of the literature through a PubMed search was undertaken. Twelve recommendations including, among others, the consideration of shorter courses, delays, and the omission of RT for lung cancer are proposed by the panel. In summary, we recommend the screening of every single person accessing the treatment room, the consideration of hypofractionation and to delay postoperative RT for non-small cell lung cancer, to avoid twice-daily treatments and delay or deliver prophylactic cranial irradiation during radio(chemo)therapy for limited-stage small cell lung cancer, review image guided RT images for suspicious image findings, and the use of single-fraction RT for the palliative treatment of stage IV lung cancer patients. Given that lung cancer is one of the most common and severe pathologies in radiation oncology departments, the following recommendations require particularly urgent consideration. The decision-making paths strongly depend on locally available resources, and a tailored approach should be used to attend lung cancer patients during this pandemic.
Keywords: COVID-19; Lung cancer; Outbreak; Pandemic; Radiation therapy.
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