The impact of COVID-19 on the cancer care of adolescents and young adults and their well-being: Results from an online survey conducted in the early stages of the pandemic.
Košir U., Loades M., Wild J., Wiedemann M., Krajnc A., Roškar S., Bowes L.
BACKGROUND: Because of the global spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), oncology departments across the world have rapidly adapted their cancer care protocols to balance the risk of delaying cancer treatments and the risk of COVID-19 exposure. COVID-19 and associated changes may have an impact on the psychosocial functioning of patients with cancer and survivors. This study was designed to determine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on young people living with and beyond cancer. METHODS: In this cross-sectional study, 177 individuals, aged 18 to 39 years, were surveyed about the impact of COVID-19 on their cancer care and psychological well-being. Participants also reported their information needs with respect to COVID-19. Responses were summarized with a content analysis approach. RESULTS: This was the first study to examine the psychological functioning of young patients and survivors during the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. A third of the respondents reported increased levels of psychological distress, and as many as 60% reported feeling more anxious than they did before COVID-19. More than half also wanted more information tailored to them as young patients with cancer. CONCLUSIONS: The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly evolving and changing the landscape of cancer care. Young people living with cancer are a unique population and might be more vulnerable during this time in comparison with their healthy peers. There is a need to screen for psychological distress and attend to young people whose cancer care has been delayed. As the lockdown begins to ease, the guidelines about cancer care should be updated according to this population's needs.