Surgical management of oncologic patient during and after the COVID-19 outbreak: practical recommendations from the Italian society of Surgical Oncology

SICO (Italian Society of Surgical Oncology)

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The recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Italy caused a limitation of the resources of the health system, which necessarily led to their rationalization in the critical phase (phase 1) and a reorganization of the system in the following phase (phase 2). The Italian Society of Oncological Surgery–SICO has drafted these practical recommendations, calibrated on the most recent scientific literature and taking into account current health regulations and common sense. Surgical activity during phase 1 and 2 should follow a dynamic model, considering architectural structures, hospital mission, organizational models. Surgical delay should not affect oncological prognosis. However, COVID-19-positive cancer patients should be postponed until the infection is cured. The patients to consider more carefully before delaying surgery are those who have completed neoadjuvant therapy, patients with high biological aggressiveness tumors or without therapeutic alternatives. The multidisciplinary discussions are fundamental for sharing clinical decisions; videoconference meetings are preferable and use of telemedicine for follow-up is recommended. Especially in phase 1, maximum effort must be made to reduce the spread of the pandemic. Prefer intra-corporeal rather than open anastomosis during laparoscopy and mechanical rather than hand-sewn anastomosis in open surgery. Consider PPE for caregivers during stoma management. Minimal invasive surgery is not discouraged, because there is little evidence for augmented risk. Specific procedures have to be followed and use of energy devices has to be limited. Training programs with COVID-19 + patients are not recommended. All staff in OR should be trained with specific courses on specific PPE use. Differentiate recommendations are presented for every district cancer. Surgical oncology during phase 2 should be guaranteed by individual and distinct protocols and pathways between cancer patients and COVID-19 + patients with resources specifically addressed to the two distinct kind of patients to limit diagnostic/therapeutic interferences or slowdowns. These recommendations are based on currently available evidence about management of oncologic patients during COVID-19 pandemic, were endorsed by the SICO Executive Board, and are considered suitable for nationwide diffusion. They will be subject to updates and revisions in case of new and relevant scientific acquisitions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-329
Number of pages9
JournalUpdates in Surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Cancer
  • COVID-19
  • Oncologic surgery
  • Recommendations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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