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Cancer and COVID-19: News and Views from ASCO 2020

June 18, 2020

Amid the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), held virtually this year, underscored the far-reaching implications of the pandemic on cancer care. While COVID-19 was a major focus of this year’s virtual conference, oncology researchers and providers also released significant research results, highlighted prominent clinical trials, and shared valuable peer insights.

The ASCO20 Virtual Scientific Program kicked off with a special session assessing the overall impact of COVID-19 on patients with cancer. While much is still unknown about how COVID-19 affects cancer patients, two studies released during ASCO emphasize the importance of continued vigilance for cancer patients during the pandemic.

According to the research, progressing cancer – active cancer that is growing or spreading – can be linked to increased risk of death in people with cancer and COVID-19. Similar risks exist for people with lung or other thoracic cancers who were treated with chemotherapy within three months before a COVID-19 diagnosis, another study found.

We’re hopeful this preliminary research will help us better understand the factors that affect COVID-19 severity in cancer patients.”

“We’re hopeful this preliminary research will help us better understand the factors that affect COVID-19 severity in cancer patients,” said Lalan Wilfong, M.D., vice president, quality programs and value based care at Texas Oncology. “Armed with information like this, we can provide better medical recommendations for people with cancer during coronavirus.”

Debra Patt, M.D., Ph.D, MPH, MBA, executive vice president, public policy and strategic initiatives at Texas Oncology, also presented new research at the conference. Research led by Dr. Patt found that clinical decision support systems helped providers comply with evidence-based treatment options. Clinical decision support systems are computer-based programs that analyze patient health data to provide prompts and reminders for health care providers.

“In complex systems like cancer care, these systems can dramatically improve the quality of care,” said Dr. Patt. “Research also indicates the potential to greatly improve the patient experience.

During the conference, oncology researchers also shared promising results from many other drug trials, including those demonstrating effectiveness for lung, colorectal, liver, and kidney cancers. You can read more about the individual sessions from ASCO 2020 at meetings.asco.org.

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.