Systematic rapid living review of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer survivors: update to August 27, 2020

Support Care Cancer. 2021 Jun;29(6):2841-2850. doi: 10.1007/s00520-020-05908-w. Epub 2020 Nov 26.


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in drastic changes in the global healthcare delivery landscape and has had practical repercussions for cancer survivors. This systematic rapid living review has been undertaken to synthesise the available knowledge regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in a timely manner. This initial rapid review will present the findings of literature published up to August 27, 2020.

Design: A systematic search of PubMed, Scopus and Google Scholar databases was conducted to identify all articles, available in English language, regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer survivors published between December 2019 and August 27, 2020. The search strategy employed the following search strings: "covid-19 OR coronavirus OR sars-cov-2" with "cancer survivors OR cancer survivorship".

Results: The database search yielded 1639 articles, of which 19 were included. Of the 19 selected articles, there were 12 expert opinion articles, two literature reviews, two prospective cohort studies, one retrospective cohort study, one descriptive study and one pooled meta-analysis that comment on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the physical wellbeing (16 articles), psychosocial wellbeing (15 articles) and financial wellbeing of cancer survivors (3 articles).

Conclusions: Limited definitive evidence exists regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer survivors. Currently available literature provides preliminary indications of wide-ranging impacts of the pandemic on cancer survivors with respect to the requirement to adapt to new means of healthcare delivery as well as their physical, psychosocial and economic wellbeing. The pandemic has left survivors dealing with the consequences of rigorous cancer treatment in the context of new challenges related to social isolation, financial hardship and uncertainty with respect to their ongoing care. Additional rigorously designed research initiatives are required to elucidate the impact of the pandemic on cancer survivors.

Keywords: COVID-19; Cancer survivors; Cancer survivorship; Coronavirus; SARS-CoV-2; Severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / mortality*
  • Cancer Survivors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Coronavirus Infections / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Pandemics
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2