Why the Pandemic Is Forcing Oncology Clinical Trials to Evolve

COVID-19 has complicated oncology trials and care, slowing down the success seen against cancer.

While the cancer death rate fell 29% between 1991 and 2017, according to the American Cancer Society, the coronavirus pandemic has threatened to interfere with oncology drug development trials.

COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on oncology

“Cancer patients have been disproportionately negatively affected by COVID-19,” said Jeff Elton, CEO of ConcertAI, an AI company specializing in oncology. Immunocompromised patients with hematological malignancies such as multiple myeloma, in particular, face outsized risks from COVID-19 infection.

To reduce the risk for patients, many oncology clinics in 2019 limited capacity while making significant treatment changes. “It wasn’t unusual to see people queuing through tents in the parking lot and being very segregated in different zones as they were going through treatment,” Elton said.

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