Coronavirus (Covid-19) and cancer patients: How the sickest are affected

Filed Under: Costs, Patients

“The COVID-19 pandemic and responses to help prevent its spread have had far-reaching impact on all
Americans, and particularly on cancer patients and survivors. Risk of infection, overloaded health care
systems, shortages of food and supplies, and economic challenges all create unique barriers to achieving
and maintaining health while fighting cancer and after,” according to a new study. “To better understand the impact of COVID-19 on the vulnerable population of US cancer patients and
survivors, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) initiated a survey on March
25, 2020. The survey was deployed across a two week period to the 3,055 cancer patients and survivors
participating in the Survivor Views initiative, and was also shared through ACS CAN social media and
email channels to recruit additional respondents.

“The survey focused on respondents’ experiences accessing health care as a result of the COVID-19
pandemic, including availability of appointments and services, ability to pay for care, and concerns
about being able to safely obtain needed health care treatments and services in the future. The web-based survey was taken by more than 1,200 cancer patients and survivors. …

“Key findings from the survey include:
• Fifty percent of cancer patients and survivors reported some impact to their health care due to
the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty-seven percent of patients who are currently in active
treatment report a delay to their treatment, and more than 1 in 8 (13%) of those in active
treatment have had care delayed without knowledge of when it will be rescheduled.
• The economic impact of the pandemic is affecting many cancer patients and survivors, with 38%
of respondents reporting a notable impact on their financial situation that affects their ability to
pay for care. Nearly half of cancer patients and survivors whose annual household income is
$30,000 or less are worried that the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will make it
hard for them to afford the care they need.
• A third of cancer patients and survivors are worried about the impact of COVID-19 on their
ability to get treatment for their cancer, a concern that is particularly acute for those currently
in active treatment (40% of whom express worry).” Full study is here.