Managing head and neck cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic: the experience of a tertiary referral center in southern Italy

Francesco Longo, Eleonora M.C. Trecca, Aurelio D’Ecclesia, Chiara Copelli, Karim Tewfik, Alfonso Manfuso, Nicola Pederneschi, Annalisa Mastromatteo, Matteo Aldo Russo, Antonio Pansini, Luca M. Lacerenza, Pier Gerardo Marano, Lazzaro Cassano

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The medical community has been deeply involved in fighting the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and, as a consequence, the care of non-COVID-19 patients has been impacted. However, the treatment of head and neck cancer patients is not deferrable, and an integrated strategy is required. The aim of the current article is to present the experience in the management of head and neck patients during the COVID-19 pandemic at the research hospital “Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza”. This review contains replicable and widely usable instructions on how to avoid delays in the diagnosis and treatment of head and neck tumors and to ensure a gradual return to elective procedures. Main text: The Head and Neck Department of the research hospital “Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza” includes an Otolaryngology and a Maxillofacial Surgery Unit, both of which deal with the diagnosis and treatment of benign and malignant pathologies of the head and neck, as well as urgent/emergent consultations and surgical procedures that necessitate time sensitive operative management, such as cochlear implantation (CI). Given these premises and the complexity of the Department, the “COVID-19 organizing protocol” of the research hospital “Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza” was divided into two phases in accordance with the different stages of the pandemic and the priority of treatment. Special attention was given to the medical surveillance of health care workers and hospitalized patients, to the organization of the outpatient clinic and the operating setting as well as to the implementation of telehealth systems. Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic is going to be a long-term situation with lasting effects on the public health and the entire society. Therefore, an efficient health care system has to adopt a double strategy: always being ready for a “new wave” of the pandemic and not forgetting non-COVID-19 patients, among whom head and neck cancer patients represent a priority. More than 1 year since the first outbreak in Wuhan, this review offers a unique and helpful perspective that incorporates awareness of the disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalInfectious Agents and Cancer
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Ambulatory care
  • Coronavirus disease
  • Critical care
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Hospital administration
  • Infection
  • Maxillofacial surgery
  • Otolaryngology
  • Primary health care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research
  • Infectious Diseases

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Managing head and neck cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic: the experience of a tertiary referral center in southern Italy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this