At this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, many cancer patients may have already reached out to their medical teams regarding appointments for ongoing treatment or follow up. For patients and their caregivers, there is additional concern about scheduling appointments and accessing treatment in a timely manner to delay the progression of the disease. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about how COVID-19 might impact cancer treatments in the immediate future.

  1. As someone who has been diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer, will I be able to see my gynecologic oncologist if my state has a shelter-in-place order?

If your state or city is currently under a shelter-in-place order, there may be general considerations that your health care team will have to make when treating cancer patients depending on how COVID-19 is affecting your city/state at any given time. This may include telemedicine options (like phone or video visits), delays for certain surgeries or chemotherapy regimens that will avoid frequent clinic visits. Be sure to ask your gynecologic oncology team what their practice or health care institution is recommending.

  1. As long as the COVID-19 national emergency persists, is there a chance that I might have to stop treatment entirely?

As COVID-19 restrictions begin to be lifted at hospitals in some areas, health care practitioners are exploring treatment options that avoid possible exposure to COVID-19, while making every effort to ensure that cancer patients are receiving the best possible care under these challenging circumstances. Medical associations and institutions are already developing guidelines about scheduling surgeries and outpatient procedures as states lift their shelter-in-place orders.

  1. Will I have to avoid follow-up appointments if my disease is in remission?

It is important that physicians handle each patient’s situation on a case-by-case basis, weighing all risks and benefits. Consult with your gynecologic oncologist about your short-term and long-term treatment options over the course of this national emergency.

For more answers to patient questions about the coronavirus pandemic, visit Answers to Cancer Patients’ Questions about COVID-19.