How does COVID-19 fear and anxiety affect chemotherapy adherence in patients with cancer?

Bottom Line:

This study finds that COVID-19 related fear and anxiety increases chemotherapy postponement rates.


Karacin, C. et al. How does COVID-19 fear and anxiety affect chemotherapy adherence in patients with cancer. Future Oncology (2020).

Date Published:

17 July 2020


Discontinuation of chemotherapy (CT) is detrimental to treatment effectiveness for cancer patients. It is crucial that CT treatment is not delayed in order to successfully control and prevent the recurrence of disease. Therefore, patient adherence directly affects treatment response. However, since patients with cancer are at a higher risk of contracting severe forms of COVID-19 due to immunosuppression caused by the disease or treatments received, many patients postpone follow-up visits or treatments due to COV-FA (COVID-19 related fear and anxiety). This study reviewed CT appointments between January 2020 and May 2020 and calculated the CT postponement rates. To assess the presence of psychiatric and anxiety disorders, researchers evaluated patient electronic records and asked the patients about their personal psychiatric history. The study found that CT postponement rates increased significantly after the first case of COVID-19 was identified and COV-FA was the third highest reason for CT postponement. Furthermore, CT postponements were found to be higher in women than in men which was consistent with literature. Thirty-five days after the first COVID-19 case was reported, patients were interviewed using telemedicine for follow-up. They discovered that telemedicine produced positive outcomes in encouraging patients to continue their treatment as they provided patients with the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 cases at the health centre and stressed the consequences of delaying treatment.

Summary by: Eugenia Yeung