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Views And Reviews

Protecting “covid protected” cancer hubs

BMJ 2020; 369 doi: (Published 29 May 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m2062
  1. Charles Swanton, chief clinician1,
  2. Henry Scowcroft, patient editor, communications strategy lead23
  1. 1Francis Crick Institute
  2. 2The BMJ
  3. 3Cancer Research UK.
  1. Charles.Swanton{at}

Many patients still face risks from nosocomial transmissions from asymptomatic healthcare workers and patients

With covid-19 disrupting global healthcare services, people affected by life threatening conditions such as cancer have faced substantial treatment delays or modifications. In the pandemic’s early days, with much unknown, this caution was understandable. For cancer, emerging data from small retrospective cohorts suggested a higher rate of serious complications or death following infection, particularly in late stage metastatic disease.1234

This has caused widespread anxiety, with many facing difficult conversations with their clinical teams, often through unfamiliar platforms, as new national treatment guidelines are interpreted into personal care plans to appropriately balance risks.

These delays to treatment, coupled with a large drop in diagnostic referrals from a population understandably reluctant to seek help for suspicious symptoms, have raised concerns of a “post-pandemic surge” in non-covid associated mortality, as early stage, curable cancers progress to inoperable disease, or spread beyond the primary site.5

To try to prevent this, there has been a rapid effort to reconfigure services in order to safely treat patients with new or existing diagnoses of cancer. In the UK, this has led to the establishment …

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