Impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic on cancer treatment: the patients' perspective

Eur J Cancer. 2020 Sep:136:132-139. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2020.06.019. Epub 2020 Jul 4.


Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, has inevitable consequences for medical care of patients without COVID-19. To assess the impact of this pandemic on oncological care, a nationwide survey was conducted among patients with cancer in the Netherlands.

Methods: The patients' perspective on oncological care was investigated using an online survey between March 29th 2020 and April 18th 2020. The survey consisted of 20 questions on four topics: patients' characteristics, contact with the hospital, consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns about COVID-19.

Results: Five thousand three hundred two patients with cancer completed this nationwide survey. Overall, 30% of patients reported consequences for their oncological treatment or follow-up. In the majority of cases, this resulted in conversion from hospital visit to consultation by phone or video. The most frequently adjusted treatments were chemotherapy (30%) and immunotherapy (32%). Among patients with delay and discontinuation of treatment, 55% and 63% of patients, respectively, were (very) concerned about these consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequences were independent of regional differences in COVID-19 incidence. However, patients in regions with high COVID-19 incidence were significantly more concerned.

Conclusion: This is the first study investigating perspectives of patients with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study demonstrates the significant impact of the COVID-19 crisis on oncological care, indicating the need for psycho-oncological support during this pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; Cancer; Coronavirus; Pandemic; Patients' perspective.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Psycho-Oncology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telemedicine*
  • Time-to-Treatment*


  • Antineoplastic Agents