COVID19 and its impact on clinical cancer research: the EORTC network experience

Prof. Antonio CasadoSpain has been heavily impacted by the virus, to date there has been 248 770 confirmed cases with 28 343 patients dying from the disease, according to WHO situation reports. Professor Antonio Casado Herraez, a medical oncologist from Hospital Universitario San Carlos located in one of the severely affected cities, Madrid, emphasised the shortage of research personnel, due to coronavirus infection. Scheduled appointments and visits, especially for elderly people and patients living outside Madrid, had not taken place; some had to be carried out as telephone interviews.

“We have preserved the essential points in every clinical trial – lab tests, radiological assessments, tumour biopsies after starting treatment, toxicity, some critical research nurses appointments and safety issues – but some procedures have been delayed and as a result of this, some deviations have occurred which have been well documented,” he said.

He goes on to say, “most clinical trials have been maintained for patient’s entry and active recruitment, but for some, the sponsors decided to temporarily stop the trial.”  This was the case for the EORTC 1514 trial conducted by EORTC Quality of Life and Gynaecological Cancer Groups. This is an investigation on psychological issues, during the follow-up of gynaecological cancer patients.

“The pandemic of coronavirus may have such a strong influence on the experience of the follow-up process that we decided to stop the trial for a few weeks or months until the pandemic drastically declined. After which, we can then undertake normal appointments without putting the patients at risks in the process of visiting the hospital facilities,” he explains.

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