Management of gynecological cancers in the COVID-19 era: a survey from Turkey

J Turk Ger Gynecol Assoc. 2020 Dec 4;21(4):265-271. doi: 10.4274/jtgga.galenos.2020.2020.0071.


Objective: This study aimed to investigate how gynecologic oncologists modified their patient management during Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) in Turkey.

Material and methods: An online survey was sent to gynecologic oncology specialists and fellows in Turkey. It included management questions about strategies for newly diagnosed or recurrent endometrial, cervical, ovarian and vulvar cancer during the pandemic. Participants were asked if treatment of these cancers can be delayed or not and, if yes, the duration of delay.

Results: 32.9% of surgeons prescribed oral or intrauterine progesterone for early stage, low-grade endometrial cancer. Conversely, 65.7% and 45.7% of the most surgeons did not change their management for early stage high-grade and advanced stage endometrial cancers respectively, as they perform surgery. 58% and 67.1% of the surgeons continued to prefer standard surgical treatment for microinvasive and early stage cervical cancers, respectively. Radiotherapy was preferred administered with hypofractionated doses for locally advanced cervical cancer (57.1%). While 67.1% of surgeons operated early stage ovarian cancer patients, 50% administered neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT) to all advanced stage ovarian cancers and 50% administered more cycles of NACT in preference to interval debulking surgery. 93.7% of the surgeons responded that treatment should not be delayed beyond eight weeks.

Conclusion: Most Turkish gynecologic oncologists modified their management of gynecologic cancers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While chemotherapy was preferred for ovarian cancer, postponement of the surgery, with or without non-surgical options, was considered for early stage, low-grade endometrial cancer. Treatment of gynecologic cancers should be decided on a case by case basis, taking into account local COVID-19 infection rates and availability of health facilities. Prognosis is also an important consideration if delay is contemplated. Standard treatment and normal time-frames should be used if possible. If not, a postponement for a maximum of eight weeks or referral to another center were acceptable alternatives.

Keywords: COVID-19; gynecologic oncology; survey.