The COVID-19 outbreak has added complexity in the management of patients with neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). Little information is currently available regarding the real impact of the pandemic in current practice. The present study aimed to capture patients' and healthcare professionals' experiences on how the NET management has changed during the pandemic and how it should be modified in a foreseeable post-pandemic environment. Physicians and nurses working in ENETS Centers of Excellence or other hospitals with high volume of NET patients (n = 48), as well as NET patients residing worldwide (n = 353), were asked to respond to two online anonymous surveys addressing different aspects of NET care. Deferred diagnoses, delayed surveillance procedures and postponed elective surgeries were among the main negative consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak according to 40%, 54% and 46% of healthcare professionals (HPs) respectively. Somatostatin analogs were increasingly used as bridging strategy for delaying surgery based on the views of 31% of HPs and were self-injected or delivered by home care services more frequently than before the initiation of the pandemic (53% of patients during the pandemic vs. 44% before the pandemic). Multidisciplinary tumor boards kept their usual schedule according to 58% of HPs, but were held virtually in the 77% of cases. The contact with healthcare professionals was maintained by remote methods more often than in the past (69% of patients), but only 34% of patients (59% among subjects < 41 years) would prefer telemedicine to face-to-face consultations in the future. New health policy measures should guarantee the highest standard of treatment to NET patients, regardless of the trajectory followed by the COVID-19 pandemic in the next months. Pros and cons of telemedicine should be carefully weighted before systematic implementation.
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; carcinoids; telemedicine; vaccination.
© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Neuroendocrinology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Society for Neuroendocrinology.