For patients and medical staff navigating safely between cancer and COVID-19, Charu Aggarwal, an associate professor of hematology-oncology, compared the experience to “being between a rock and hard place.” During the Abramson Cancer Center’s “Cancer and COVID-19” virtual conference on Sept. 30, Aggarwal joined more than 3,700 health professionals, including Robert H. Vonderheide, director of the Abramson Cancer Center and chair of the conference, and Anthony S. Fauci, one of the most well-respected infectious disease experts who is helping lead the national COVID-19 response effort, who presented the keynote address.
Hospitals had to quickly adapt to a rapidly changing environment and enforce protocols to deliver care safely and effectively. Many individuals are choosing to skip cancer screenings or delay treatments. And those battling both COVID-19 and cancer are facing a higher risk of worse outcomes and more complicated care.
However, as the cases grew around the world, so did the understanding of the impact the SARS-CoV-2 virus has had on oncology. Clinicians, nurses, hospital support staff, and researchers have continued to chart a course ahead during these times.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, took the opportunity to offer up everything from updates on the vaccine trials and rising rates to advice for the oncology field.
“The numbers are striking,” he said. “We passed a mark just a couple of days ago with 200,000 deaths…and essentially, [there is] no particular end in sight.”
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