Addressing Aspects Outside of Treatment, Looking Ahead in Lung Cancer Care - Episode 1

COVID-19 and Lung Cancer

Kristie L. Kahl: To start, should there be a concern for delayed treatments and disease progression or mortality when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Katie Brown: I feel like individuals who are at high risk of developing lung cancer are not showing up for their lung cancer screenings. And this will definitely increase the number of patients who will be diagnosed with advanced stage lung cancer. Also, I think what concerns us and health care professionals are patients who are canceling or postponing not only their scans and their follow-up scans, but their wellness visits due to COVID fears.

Kristie L. Kahl: Because of these concerns, how can we try to address these fears so that we combat any of these potential challenges down the road?

Katie Brown: So I think that information is key. It's important to convey to patients that hospital systems are taking great care to protect against COVID spread within the hospital. I know that in some hospitals, COVID patients and critically ill persons enter through different parts of the hospital than (patients coming in for) scans and office visits. And hospital staffs are also screening everyone who enters for COVID symptoms and limiting who can go into the hospital. And because we know that early detection saves lives, patients should not skip their treatments or appointments or even their yearly wellness exams.

Kristie L. Kahl: You mentioned that one of the challenges is that patients are skipping their appointments. What are some of the other challenges that we've seen in lung cancer during this pandemic?

Katie Brown: You know, all of us are experiencing challenges right now during the pandemic. What I'm seeing universally across all of our communities is the feeling of social and emotional isolation.

Kristie L. Kahl: What can we do to address that kind of a challenge and help others feel less socially isolated during this time?

Katie Brown: So, a huge benefit is the technology that we have today at LUNGevity, we have many online communities for patients to utilize. So last year, when the pandemic began, we pivoted our in-person events to a virtual platform. And we also partner with other organizations to engage within our lung cancer community. We also have a virtual patient and caregiver meetup via Zoom four times a week, and we're considering doing it daily to meet all of the challenges that our patients face.

Kristie L. Kahl: Are there other resources available that patients can resource during these trying times?

Katie Brown: Yes, absolutely. Patients can utilize our lung cancer helpline for professional psychosocial support, financial support and access to resources. We also have a lung cancer mentor program called Lifeline that patients can sign up for, and that's where they can request a support mentor. We also have many vibrant online communities and message boards.

Kristie L. Kahl: To bring it all together, what is your biggest piece of advice for an individual that has a lung cancer diagnosis, but is trying to make their way through this pandemic?

Katie Brown: My biggest piece of advice would be to let them know that they are not alone. So, while we can't physically be together, there are ways that a patient can plug into our community for social interaction, peer support and advice, and visit our website lungevity.org, to learn more and get information about the disease itself.