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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 212-219

Deviation from standard cancer treatment during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India: A cross-sectional study

1 Department of Medical Oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital, Homi Bhabha National Institute, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
2 Department of Biostatistics, Tata Memorial Hospital, Homi Bhabha National Institute, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
3 Department of Medical Oncology, Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital (HBCH) and Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya Cancer Center (MPMMCC), Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Kumar Prabhash
Professor and Head, Department of Medical Oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital, Homi Bhabha National Institute, Mumbai, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/crst.crst_115_22

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Background: During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, established best practices in cancer care were modified to diminish the risk of COVID-19 infection among patients and health-care workers. Objective: We aimed to study the modifications in cancer-directed therapy during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study of patients with cancers of the head and neck, thoracic, urologic, and central nervous systems who visited the medical oncology department of the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, India, between April 22, 2020 and June 01, 2020, was conducted. Data were prospectively collected in an online pro forma and supplemented from the electronic medical records. Results: Of a total of 514 patients, 363 (71%) were men. The most common malignancy was lung cancer in 234 patients (46%). Cancer-directed therapy was modified in 83 patients (16%). Deviations consisted of modification of the chemotherapy regimen (48%), temporary discontinuation of chemotherapy in 37%, and interim chemotherapy to delay surgery in 5%. Changes in the chemotherapy regimen included a shift to a less intensive regimen in 45%, changing from intravenous to oral in 40%, and less frequent dosing of immunotherapy in 7%. Considering missed appointments as a deviation from planned cancer therapy, 68% of patients had a deviation in the standard planned cancer care. Conclusions: Almost two-thirds of the patients could not reach the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in India. Of those who could reach the hospital, one of out every six patients with cancer had a change in their cancer-directed treatment, half of which consisted of a modification in the standard chemotherapy regimens. The effects of these therapy deviations are likely to be long-lasting. (Clinical Trials Registry-India, CTRI/2020/07/026533)

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