LUNGevity spoke with Charu Aggarwal, MD, MPH, who answered questions from the lung cancer community about accessing lung cancer care during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to note that the conversation took place on July 21, as issues around the COVID-19 pandemic continue to evolve.
Dr. Aggarwal is a thoracic medical oncologist and the Leslye M. Heisler Associate Professor for Lung Cancer Excellence at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a clinical researcher who is very involved in managing patients during the pandemic. She has been instrumental in writing guidelines to help the community take care of patients with lung cancer.
Below are the questions discussed in the accompanying video:
- How can patients prepare to continue to take chemotherapy infusions during the pandemic?
- What types of changes have you adopted in your practice to make sure patients can continue to receive immunosuppressive treatments such as chemotherapy?
- Do patients need to take any special precautions with immunotherapy?
- Would you have different suggestions for a patient who is getting the chemo-immuno combination therapy?
- Do you think of targeted therapies differently from the infusion-related treatments?
- Do you have any additional mechanisms in place to help patients during the COVID-19 pandemic if they are experiencing dramatic side effects from their treatment? How has that changed during the pandemic?
- What happens if a patient is diagnosed with COVID-19 in the middle of their treatment?
- What types of precautions are the CT scanners and blood-draw clinics putting in place to make sure that patients continue to be safe?
- When patients go back home, what are the top two or three pieces of advice you give them to make sure they are safe during the pandemic?
- For most cancer patients, having a caregiver at appointments in person is very helpful, especially when they have finished an infusion and have to drive back home. Under what circumstances would your clinic issue a companion pass?