Cancer patients are particularly badly affected by the current pandemic as they belong to the high-risk group. It was against this background that more than 50 participants attended the virtual event to learn more about the latest research findings on COVID-19 & cancer. The event was initiated by the SAKK Patient Advisory Board and skillfully moderated by Dr. Sander Botter, a representative of the SAKK Patient Advisory Board.
Renowned experts in oncology and infectious diseases spoke on the following subjects:
Prof. Dr. med. Markus Jörger, Cantonal Hospital St.Gallen, talked about the challenges posed by infection with COVID-19 in patients with pre-existing cancer. He also presented recent data from the SAKK 80/20 CaSA registry study, the objective of which was to monitor the course of COVID-19 infection in Swiss cancer patients and to identify any factors that might provide information on the prognosis.
Dr. Karin Ribi from the International Breast Cancer Study Group and the Institute of Higher Education and Research in Healthcare in Lausanne gave a fascinating presentation about a study looking at how patients with cancer are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic. The first wave of the pandemic, in particular, created many challenges in the day-to-day lives of cancer patients. Uncertainty, concerns and a need for advice and support with respect to the increased risk in the event of infection were dominant features of that time. This effect was much less pronounced during the second wave, with cancer patients showing a certain degree of resilience in the face of the additional challenge.
In the final lecture, Dr. med. Cornelia Staehelin from Inselspital Bern mentioned some impressive statistics concerning the authorized COVID-19 vaccines, which were developed very quickly and are highly effective. At the end of her presentation, Dr. med. Staehelin talked about vaccinating cancer patients, saying that major differences exist depending on the type of cancer. This is particularly the case when cancer therapy affects the immune system.
After the lectures the participants took the opportunity to ask the speakers a number of questions, highlighting further interesting aspects of the pandemic and cancer.
The SAKK Patient Advisory Board summed up the event very positively based on the feedback received. The audience was very interested in how COVID-19 is handled in patients with cancer.
Following the success of the event, the SAKK Patient Advisory Board will be organizing another event open to the public in November 2021, during the SOHC congress. Follow us on our website: https://www.sakk.ch/en/events.