Weighing the Risks and Benefits of Colorectal Cancer Treatment During the COVID-19 Pandemic

April 25, 2020

Despite the impact that COVID-19 is having on cancer treatment schedules, one expert stresses the importance of staying the course not just for an individual’s benefit, but for the health of others.

To comment on what he’s seeing in practice at the University of Colorado Cancer Center and in his work with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, CURE® spoke with Dr. Christopher Lieu, who offered some tips on how patients with colorectal cancer can navigate the novel coronavirus crisis.

“What’s going on right now is completely unprecedented,” said Lieu. “We’re learning along with our patients more about the virus and how to combat it, and the impact of COVID-19 on our patients.”

In determining what’s best for each of his patients, Lieu explained that the conversations focus on risks of exposing patients to possible infection versus the benefits of treatment. But as he noted, “Cancer doesn’t care if there’s a pandemic or not. Cancer’s not going to stop just because we’re dealing with a pandemic and our patients understand that better than anybody.”

Despite the impact that COVID-19 is having on treatment schedules and the anxiety that self-imposed isolation can cause, Lieu stresses the importance of staying the course not just for an individual’s benefit, but for the health of others.

“The real take-home message here is that even if your risk for developing COVID-19 is really low, by doing some of these things, not only are you protecting yourself and those that are close to you, but you really could be saving the life of someone you’ve never met before,” said Lieu.

“If you think about it that way, it provides a lot of motivation to do these things and do them right.”


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