A UAE-led study has found cancer patients face double the risk of contracting Covid-19 – prompting calls for global health officials to take decisive action to safeguard lives.
The research review, funded by the Khalifa Foundation, noted that people with cancer are more susceptible to infection.
The findings are a source for concern as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise all over the world.
The research review aimed to address the challenges of cancer care during a pandemic, state news agency Wam reported.
"Cancer patients appear to have an estimated two-fold increased risk of contracting Covid-19 than the general population," the research said.
The report stated this is partly because of the effects cancer treatments have on the immune system.
The study concluded that medical support for those battling cancer would have to be adapted.
"This includes changes to resource allocation, clinical care, and the consent process during a pandemic," the report stated.
Studies and research regarding preparedness plans for cancer patients' care during an infectious pandemic are limited, the review said.
It pointed out that strong leadership and clear planning was vital to aid to those most vulnerable to suffering serious health problems as a result of contracting the highly contagious disease.
"Strong leadership within oncology and haematology teams nationally and locally will be needed to ensure timely and proportionate implementation of contingency plans, which balance risks and protect patients and healthcare workers as infections rise," the review went on to say.
Critical strategies to be put in place include clear communication and education about hand hygiene, infection control measures, high-risk exposure, and the signs and symptoms of the virus.
Doctors would have to consider the possibility of postponing elective surgery or chemotherapy treatment for some patients on "a case-by-case basis".
Limiting the number of outpatient visits and hospital admissions was crucial to mitigating the risk of exposure to infection, with the prospect of treating patients remotely via video technology raised as a possible solution.
The review was published in the latest edition of The Oncologist, a medical journal dedicated to best care practices for cancer patients.