A snapshot on radiotherapy for head and neck cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic: a survey of the Italian Association of Radiotherapy and Clinical Oncology (AIRO) head and neck working group

Francesca De Felice, Elisa D’Angelo, Rossana Ingargiola, Nicola Alessandro Iacovelli, Daniela Alterio, Pierfrancesco Franco, Pierluigi Bonomo, Anna Merlotti, Almalina Bacigalupo, Marta Maddalo, Alessia Di Rito, Giuseppe Fanetti, Ida D’Onofrio, Francesco Dionisi, Francesco Miccichè, Marianna Trignani, Daniela Musio, Fabiola Paiar, Domenico Attilio Romanello, Vittorio DonatoEster Orlandi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: The objective of the paper was to assess real-life experience in the management of head and neck cancer (HNC) patients during the COVID-19 pandemic in radiotherapy departments and to evaluate the variability in terms of adherence to American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) and European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) recommendations. Materials and methods: In May 2020, an anonymous 30-question online survey, comparing acute phase of outbreak and pre-COVID-19 period, was conducted. Two sections exploited changes in general management of HNC patients and different HNC primary tumors, addressing specific statements from ASTRO ESTRO consensus statement as well. Results: Eighty-eight questionnaires were included in the demographic/clinical workflow analysis, and 64 were analyzed for treatment management. Forty-eight percent of radiotherapy departments became part of oncologic hubs. First consultations reduced, and patients were addressed to other centers in 33.8 and 18.3% of cases, respectively. Telematic consultations were used in 50% of follow-up visits and 73.9% of multidisciplinary tumor board discussions. There were no practical changes in the management of patients affected by different primitive HNCs. Hypofractionation was not favored over conventional schedules. Conclusions: Compared to pre-COVID era, the clinical workflow was highly re-organized, whereas there were no consistent changes in RT indications and schedules.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRadiologia Medica
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Radiotherapy
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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