Cancer survivorship care during COVID-19—perspectives and recommendations from the MASCC survivorship study group
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, cancer survivors’ follow-up care has been severely affected. Evidence-based recommendations on management of cancer survivors in a pandemic are lacking, which could lead to inappropriate follow-up care. Through qualitative interviews, the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) Survivorship Study Group received international input from 38 members of the Survivorship Study Group to describe their responses to the impacts of COVID-19 on survivorship care. Nearly all respondents reported replacing face-to-face meetings with telehealth, and having had to delay or cancel follow-up appointments. Some indicated that survivors had difficulty accessing timely care from their primary care providers (PCPs) and as such PCPs have had to redirect tasks typically managed by PCPs to cancer survivorship services. Based on the issues highlighted, three priority areas were proposed; (1) triage of immediate needs of cancer survivors, (2) development of standardized recommendations on the use of tele-survivorship follow-up, (3) alternative models of care such as a delegating care from the specialist setting. Programs to address survivorship needs in these challenging times are often being made up in “near real time”, thus effective, evidence-based guidelines are sorely needed.