It will probably take years before we can understand the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on cancer patients. We know about decreasing diagnosis, interrupted treatment cycles, and other unintended effects of pandemic control measures. We don’t know, however, what exactly these changes mean for cancer patients and their survival rates.
Even though high-quality data is often lacking and there is significant heterogeneity in real world evidence connecting treatment delays with increased mortality, studies increasingly highlight delays in cancer treatment during the past months. More recently, there have also been attempts to standardize estimates of the effects of treatment delays on survival rates, offering important lessons for cancer care systems.
How can we quantify the impact of delays in cancer treatment on mortality? What do we know about the causal links between pandemic control measures and cancer care? How can patients, health care professionals, and policymakers help minimize delays in cancer treatment initiation?