The psychological impact of the covid-19 pandemic on radiotherapy cancer patients

Elsevier, Translational Oncology, Volume 22, August 2022
Vicinanza F., Ippolito E., Sisto A., Santo B., Fiore M., Trodella L.E. et al.

In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) characterized the outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as a pandemic. The aim of this study was to evaluate the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy. Were enrolled 210 patients in treatment and in follow-up who had access to the Radiation Oncology Department of the Campus Bio-Medico University Hospital Foundation between April and May 2020. The sample was subjected to structured interview and validated questionnaires. 37% of patients showed significant levels of distress; depressive symptoms were reported by 22.4% of patients and 99% of sample had clinically significant anxiety symptoms. All patients anxiety worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic (p=< 0.001). Patients on active treatment had higher levels of distress (3.5 vs 2.6; p = 0.04) and anxiety (3.5 vs 2.6; p = 0.04). Lung cancer patients appeared to be more afraid of COVID-19 than other patients (24.2 vs 22.2). This study highlights the presence of clinically significant anxiety in 99% of sample. This conclusion reflects the condition of emotional distress present during the pandemic which makes it necessary to treat patients in a multidisciplinary perspective that includes psychological support in the care plan.