LUNGevity spoke with Kristin Higgins, MD, from Emory University, who answered questions from the lung cancer community about COVID-19 and lung cancer from her perspective as a radiation oncologist. It is important to note that the conversation took place on June 30, as issues around the COVID-19 pandemic continue to evolve.
Dr. Higgins is a radiation oncologist who specializes in lung cancer. She treats patients with non-small cell and small cell lung cancers, as well as other thoracic malignancies. She also designs clinical trials for small cell lung cancer in particular, as well as for non-small cell lung cancer. Dr. Higgins is the medical director for the main campus Department of Radiation Oncology at Emory, so she is involved in the operations of their facility, which has become more challenging in the present environment. She speaks here about some of those challenges and shares some insights.
Below are the questions discussed in the accompanying video:
- Has your practice resumed seeing all patients for radiation therapy?
- What precautions is your practice taking to ensure that patients are kept safe while they are attending radiation procedures?
- Do you have any specific advice for patients with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer who are considering radiation therapy as a part of their treatment options?
- Do you have any advice for patients with advanced-stage non-small cell lung cancer who will probably be receiving radiation therapy?
- Do you have any advice for patients with small cell lung cancer who are considering radiation therapy as one of their treatment options?
- What precautions can patients take when they are going for their radiation treatments?
- Do you have any special advice once someone finishes radiation therapy?
- If a patient tests positive for COVID-19 while they are undergoing radiation treatment, what do you recommend?
- Patients often want caregivers to go with them for the clinic visits, and sometime a patient needs that caregiver to get to and from treatment. Is your practice allowing caregivers even in the waiting areas?
- Patients are concerned that if they develop side effects from the treatments they receive, they will not have access to care because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Does your clinic have the same protocols in place or do they have new protocols in place for handling adverse events after hours?