The Association of Oncologists of Russia and experts from Europe assessed the risks in the context of the COVID – 19 pandemic

The Association of Oncologists of Russia (AOR) and the Russian Society of Clinical Oncology (RUSSCO), with the support of the Russian biotech company BIOCAD, held the first International Council of Experts on the Organization of Oncological Care in the context of the coronavirus epidemic in a teleconference format.

29 specialists took part in its work – oncologists, epidemiologists and health care organizers. Experts from Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands joined the discussion to share their experience in organizing the work of oncologists in Europe.   From Russia, the Council was attended by the chief freelance oncologists of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation Andrey Kaprin and Ivan Stilidi, specialists of the federal research centers of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation: “N.N. Blokhin Oncology Research Center”, “N.N. Oncology Research Center Petrov”, “NMIC of Radiology” and other leading oncological institutions and clinical research centers.

Director General of the Federal State Budgetary Institution “NMIC of Radiology” of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, President of the Association of Oncologists of Russia A.D. Kaprin noted: “Holding such meetings is extremely important in the context of an increasing epidemic, since patients undergoing cancer treatment are at risk and more vulnerable to infections. We are obliged to find the necessary solutions that contribute to their maximum protection.”

Among the issues discussed by the experts were changes in the organization of the oncological service and the diagnostic process in the conditions of COVID-19, protection of staff and patients, changes in work patterns.

Against the background of the rapid spread of infection, which also affects doctors, one of the important conditions for each medical and diagnostic institution is to differentiate the flows of patients with a positive and negative test for COVID-19, as well as the creation of separate teams of doctors interacting with these groups.

Maria Del Grande, an oncologist at the Institute of Oncology of Southern Switzerland, drew the attention of her colleagues to this.

Oncologists from Spain spoke about the development of new protocols for the organization of medical services and the use of modern technology: “Telemedicine and virtual consultations are what will help you continue to use an interdisciplinary approach in patient therapy,” said Antonio Gonzalez–Martin, co–head of the oncology department of the University Clinic of Navarre in Madrid.

As for operations, experts from other countries explained that each case is considered by them on an individual basis, taking into account the assessment of possible risks.

Also, according to foreign experts, when treating with cytostatics in such conditions, it is extremely important to prevent the development of neutropenia – a decrease in white blood cells, which significantly disrupts the function of the immune system and leads to an increased risk of severe bacterial and fungal infection. According to European colleagues, an effective way to stimulate hematopoiesis is the use of the drug G-CSF (granulocyte colony stimulating factor).

The integrity of the skin and mucous membranes, blood supply to the tissues and nutrition of the patient is also important for protecting against the risk of infections.

“We make maximum use of long-acting G-CSF,” commented Mansur Raza Mirza, Chief oncologist at the University Clinic of Copenhagen.

The moderator of the event was Zhukov Nikolay Vladimirovich, MD, Professor, Head of the Department of Interdisciplinary Oncology of the D.Rogachev National Research Institute of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Immunology, Associate Professor of the Department of Oncology, Hematology and Radiation Therapy of the N.I. Pirogov RNIMU, who commented on its results: “This meeting will have a very great influence on the medical community. The opportunity to hear what happened to cancer care in countries that have already faced the problem of COVID-19 “in full growth” is priceless, the opportunity to adapt their experience is doubly priceless. From my point of view, the main conclusions that can be drawn from what my colleagues have told me: approaches to providing cancer care during a pandemic will have to be changed and this is absolutely inevitable. The best option is a thoughtful and purposeful change in the amount of assistance based on the predicted situation.

The first decisions will still have to be made at your own risk at the “local” level (hospital, city), but the sooner officials hear this need and give the opportunity to legitimize and streamline changes, the better. This, alas, is a war, and the lives of many now depend on the loyalty of the commanders’ actions. And it is gratifying that many Russian oncological “commanders” were present at the meeting, who, largely thanks to what they heard, expressed their readiness to make every effort to quickly change approaches and, most importantly, to give these changes legal force.”

“In difficult situations, such as today, it becomes obvious the need for cooperation between doctors and business, consolidation of common efforts to solve a common problem. For us, the last event is an example of effective conscious interaction, when in a very short time we managed to hear, understand and subsequently work out the request of the professional community as much as possible.

Time will show the value of the work done, but it is already clear that only through obtaining and rethinking practical knowledge from specialists who have already faced the problem of COVID-19, it is possible to make the most correct decisions for organizing the work of oncologists in the conditions of the epidemic in our country. BIOCAD is ready and will support this exchange in the future,” Svetlana Bannikova, Marketing Director of BIOCAD, commented on the initiative of the Expert Council.

AOR Press Service

Press service of “FSBI NMIC Radiology” of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation

Published 13 April 2020

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