Surgical Oncologists and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Guiding Cancer Patients Effectively through Turbulence and Change

E. Shelley Hwang, Charles M. Balch, Glen C. Balch, Sheldon M. Feldman, Mehra Golshan, Stephen R. Grobmyer, Steven K. Libutti, Julie A. Margenthaler, Madhu Sasidhar, Kiran K. Turaga, Sandra L. Wong, Kelly M. McMasters, Kenneth K. Tanabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has posed extraordinary demands from patients, providers, and health care systems. Despite this, surgical oncologists must maintain focus on providing high-quality, empathetic care for the almost 2 million patients nationally who will be diagnosed with operable cancer this year. The focus of hospitals is transitioning from initial COVID-19 preparedness activities to a more sustained approach to cancer care. Methods: Editorial Board members provided observations of the implications of the pandemic on providing care to surgical oncology patients. Results: Strategies are presented that have allowed institutions to successfully prepare for cancer care during COVID-19, as well as other strategies that will help hospitals and surgical oncologists manage anticipated challenges in the near term. Perspectives are provided on: (1) maintaining a safe environment for surgical oncology care; (2) redirecting the multidisciplinary model to guide surgical decisions; (3) harnessing telemedicine to accommodate requisite physical distancing; (4) understanding interactions between SARS CoV-2 and cancer therapy; (5) considering the ethical impact of professional guidelines for surgery prioritization; and (6) advocating for our patients who require oncologic surgery in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conclusions: Until an effective vaccine becomes available for widespread use, it is imperative that surgical oncologists remain focused on providing optimal care for our cancer patients while managing the demands that the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to impose on all of us.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2600-2613
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of Surgical Oncology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


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