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Oncology patients' perceptions of and experiences with COVID-19.

  • Author(s): Miaskowski, Christine
  • Paul, Steven M
  • Snowberg, Karin
  • Abbott, Maura
  • Borno, Hala
  • Chang, Susan
  • Chen, Lee May
  • Cohen, Bevin
  • Cooper, Bruce A
  • Hammer, Marilyn J
  • Kenfield, Stacey A
  • Laffan, Angela
  • Levine, Jon D
  • Pozzar, Rachel
  • Tsai, Katy K
  • Van Blarigan, Erin L
  • Van Loon, Katherine
  • et al.


No information is available on cancer patients' knowledge of and experiences with COVID-19. We undertook an evaluation of differences in COVID-19 symptom occurrence rates, COVID-19 testing rates, clinical care activities, knowledge of COVID-19, and use of mitigation procedures between patients who were and were not receiving active cancer treatment.


Patients enrolled were > 18 years of age; had a diagnosis of cancer; and were able to complete the emailed study survey online.


Of the 174 patients who participated, 27.6% (n = 48) were receiving active treatment, 13.6% were unemployed because of COVID-19, 12.2% had been tested for COVID-19, and 0.6% had been hospitalized for COVID-19. Patients who were not on active treatment reported a higher mean number of COVID-19 symptoms (3.1 (± 4.2) versus 1.9 (± 2.6)), and patients who reported a higher number of COVID-19 symptoms were more likely to be tested. Over 55% of the patients were confident that their primary care provider could diagnose COVID-19, and the majority of the patients had high levels of adherence with the use of precautionary measures (e.g., social distancing, use of face coverings).


The high level of COVID-19 symptoms and the significant overlap of COVID-19 and cancer-related symptoms pose challenges for clinicians who are assessing and triaging oncology patients for COVID-19 testing. For patients on active treatment, clinicians face challenges with how to assess and manage symptoms that, prior to COVID-19, would be ascribed to acute toxicities associated with cancer treatments or persistent symptoms in cancer survivors.

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