Cancer Patients Endure Lower Quality of Life in the COVID-19 Era

Patients with advanced stage cancer have a significantly lower quality of life in the COVID-19 era compared to before the pandemic started, according to the findings of a study published in Psycho-Oncology.

In this surveyed-based study, researchers recruited 260 patients with stage III and IV cancer undergoing chemotherapy when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. They observed that patients’ quality of life during the pandemic was notably lower than that of a reference group of 8,066 patients with stages III and IV cancer before COVID-19 hit.

Moreover, the results showed differences in perceived quality of life concerned mainly social and cognitive functioning and were appreciably lower in patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Physical and emotional functioning were found to be similar between the two groups. Overall, the findings revealed that 20% of patients with cancer considered postponing chemotherapy and 5% consider abandoning further cancer treatment during the pandemic, despite being afraid of cancer progression.

“During this extraordinary time, cancer patients are facing a war on two fronts having to struggle with the increased risk of COVID-19 morbidity and the risk of cancer progression with possible delays of diagnosis or treatment,” said lead author Magdalena Ciyska,, PhD, of the Nicolaus Copernicus Multidisciplinary Centre for Oncology and Traumatology, in Poland in a press release about the study. “Living with cancer at the time of pandemic does not mean that oncological care must be compromised. The oncology community, despite having to deal with unprecedented challenges in treating patients, at the same time identifies risk factors that deteriorate patients’ quality of life to ensure that their safety and wellbeing are not affected.”