By Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Feb. 24, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Battling cancer is tough in normal times, but many U.S. cancer survivors are concerned the coronavirus pandemic will interfere with their care and put their health at risk, a new study finds.
“This study demonstrates the importance of clear communication between health care providers and patients experiencing concerns and uncertainties that may affect mental health during the pandemic as the care provision landscape continues to change,” lead researcher Corinne Leach said in an American Cancer Society news release. She is a senior principal scientist at the organization.
The data came from survey responses from more than 1,200 cancer patients and survivors. It was conducted March 25 to April 8, 2020 in the 2019-2020 American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s Survivor Views Panel.
“The delays and cancellations noted by cancer survivors in the survey highlight the need for policy interventions and new delivery models that make it safe for cancer patients to receive care, and the need for public policies that address the financial worries associated with the pandemic,” the authors wrote.
The survey, conducted early in the pandemic, found that one-third were worried about disruptions to their cancer care and treatment, while 77% said they felt at high risk for serious health impacts and were concerned about ICU admission or death if they got COVID-19.
More than one-quarter (27%) of respondents worried the pandemic will make it hard to afford cancer care and were concerned that they might have to make difficult spending choices, such as deciding between medicine or food.
Fears about getting sick and uncertainty over how worried they should be about COVID-19 were common among the cancer survivors, leading them to take preventive measures such as social distancing and wearing a mask.
Many respondents reported loneliness and feelings of being isolated due to social distancing during the pandemic.
Another common concern was not being able to bring a companion to in-person health appointments. Even though they understood and respected the need for the rule to protect other patients and staff, the restriction caught cancer survivors off guard, especially when receiving bad news, according to the study published Feb. 24 in the Journal of Psychosocial Oncology.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has more on cancer survivors and COVID-19.
SOURCE: American Cancer Society, news release, Feb. 24, 2021