Background: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic had an overwhelming impact on healthcare worldwide. Outstandingly, the aftermath on neoplastic patients is still largely unknown, and only isolated cases of COVID-19 during radiotherapy have been published. We will report the two-months experience of our Department, set in Lombardy “red-zone”.
Methods: data of 402 cancer patients undergoing active treatment from February 24 to April 24, 2020 were retrospectively reviewed; several indicators of the Department functioning were also analyzed.
Results: dedicated measures allowed an overall limited reduction of the workload. Decrease of radiotherapy treatment number reached 17%, while the number of administration of systemic treatment and follow up evaluations kept constant. Conversely, new treatment planning faced substantial decline. Considering the patients, infection rate was 3.23% (13/402) and mortality 1.24% (5/402). Median age of COVID-19 patients was 69.7 years, the large majority were male and smokers (84.6%); lung cancer was the most common tumor type (61.5%), 84.6% of subjects were stage III-IV and 92.3% had comorbidities. Remarkably, 92.3% of the cases were detected before March 24. Globally, only 2.5% of ongoing treatments were suspended due to suspect or confirmed COVID-19 and 46.2% of positive patients carried on radiotherapy without interruption. Considering only the last month, infection rate among patients undergoing treatment precipitated to 0.43% (1/232) and no new contagions were reported within our staff.
Conclusions: although mortality rate in COVID-19 cancer patients is elevated, our results support the feasibility and safety of continuing anticancer treatment during SARS-Cov-2 pandemic by endorsing consistent preventive measures.