Oncology patients’ perceptions of and experiences with COVID-19

Christine Miaskowski, Steven M. Paul, Karin Snowberg, Maura Abbott, Hala Borno, Susan Chang, Lee May Chen, Bevin Cohen, Bruce A. Cooper, Marilyn J. Hammer, Stacey A. Kenfield, Angela Laffan, Jon D. Levine, Rachel Pozzar, Katy K. Tsai, Erin L. Van Blarigan, Katherine Van Loon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: No information is available on cancer patients’ knowledge of and experiences with COVID-19. We undertook an evaluation of differences in COVID-19 symptom occurrence rates, COVID-19 testing rates, clinical care activities, knowledge of COVID-19, and use of mitigation procedures between patients who were and were not receiving active cancer treatment. Methods: Patients enrolled were > 18 years of age; had a diagnosis of cancer; and were able to complete the emailed study survey online. Results: Of the 174 patients who participated, 27.6% (n = 48) were receiving active treatment, 13.6% were unemployed because of COVID-19, 12.2% had been tested for COVID-19, and 0.6% had been hospitalized for COVID-19. Patients who were not on active treatment reported a higher mean number of COVID-19 symptoms (3.1 (± 4.2) versus 1.9 (± 2.6)), and patients who reported a higher number of COVID-19 symptoms were more likely to be tested. Over 55% of the patients were confident that their primary care provider could diagnose COVID-19, and the majority of the patients had high levels of adherence with the use of precautionary measures (e.g., social distancing, use of face coverings). Conclusion: The high level of COVID-19 symptoms and the significant overlap of COVID-19 and cancer-related symptoms pose challenges for clinicians who are assessing and triaging oncology patients for COVID-19 testing. For patients on active treatment, clinicians face challenges with how to assess and manage symptoms that, prior to COVID-19, would be ascribed to acute toxicities associated with cancer treatments or persistent symptoms in cancer survivors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1941-1950
Number of pages10
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Cancer
  • Fears
  • Mitigation procedures
  • Perceptions
  • Symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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