Caring for children with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic

The President of SIOP Europe, Professor Pamela Kearns, discusses a new Special Report on caring for children and adolescents with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have implications for children and adolescents with cancer and how we can ensure the best possible diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up for them. It is now more important than ever to continue to monitor and share experiences and expertise in caring for children with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A global response

The European Society for Paediatric Oncology (SIOP Europe) has worked in close collaboration with the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) and the other key global Societies representing the needs of children and adolescents with cancer to generate a paper entitled ‘The COVID-19 PANDEMIC: A Rapid Global response for Children with Cancer from SIOP, COG, SIOP Europe, SIOP-PODC, IPSO, PROS, CCI and St Jude Global’ which has been published in the journal Pediatric Blood and Cancer (the article is also online

This Special Report gives a summary of the broad principles for continuing multidisciplinary care during SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and articulates the framework for healthcare teams caring for children with cancer during the pandemic, with contributions from the leadership of the International Society for Paediatric Oncology (SIOP), Children’s Oncology Group (COG), St Jude Global programme, and Childhood Cancer International.

The six most curable cancers

Since it is anticipated that the burden will be heaviest on children, their families, and cancer care services in low- and middle-income countries during this global health emergency, the relevant clinical leads from SIOP, SIOP Europe, COG, and SIOP-PODC (Paediatric Oncology in Developing Countries) were brought together to focus on the six most curable cancers. The most curable cancers are: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, Burkitt Lymphoma, Hodgkin Lymphoma, Retinoblastoma, Wilms Tumour, ans Low Grade Glioma.

Guidance and recommendations

The overall message is that planned diagnostics and treatment of children with cancer should continue to be delivered in a timely way, with as few modifications as possible whilst considering patient safety and service constraints. The article provides useful guidance and recommendations for adapting diagnostic and treatment protocols for children with cancer during this pandemic, containment measures (i.e. social distancing, shielding) and how to prepare for the recovery period.

Practical solutions

During these unprecedented times, it is my hope that the guidance in this publication will provide practical solutions for the issues that are facing our medical and nursing colleagues who care for children and adolescents with cancer across the world.

I would like to thank all our colleagues for the swift co-operation to create this publication and I trust that everyone will be able to continue caring for patients and their families whilst keeping safe.

Professor Pamela Kearns
SIOP Europe
Tweet @SIOPEurope

Please note, this article will also appear in the second edition of our new quarterly publication.

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