Coronavirus lockdowns could have unintended consequences for cancer patients, says New York oncologist

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Dr. William Grace, an oncologist and hematologist in New York, warned that the stay-at-home orders can have unintentional consequences as it pertains to cancer patients who are not getting treatment during the coronavirus pandemic.

“If you talk to surgeons, if you talk to radiologists, a lot of women are not getting their mammograms,” Dr. Grace told “The Ingraham Angle” on Wednesday. “There is no screening for cancer care now in the Northeast, there is no surgery being done on breast cancers.

“Those people are being put on hold and there will likely be a survival impact from this COVID-19 epidemic that we are going to see in the numbers.”

Patient visits involving chemotherapy were reduced by up to 17 percent in the Northeast and cancellations and no-shows nearly doubled, up 80 percent during the pandemic, according to The Cancer Letter, which cited data compiled by Flatiron Health.

“Not only is this terrible for patients, but doesn’t it threaten to unravel an entire medical profession if this goes on much longer?” host Laura Ingraham asked Grace.

“Yes,” he said in response.

“They’re basically three venues where we give oncology treatments,” he explained. “Those doctors that are associated with hospitals and paid by hospitals, largely in the Northeast, those doctors have been drafted to take care of the COVID-19 patients.

“And so many of their patients have their treatments either attenuated or the reduction and the intensity, because you don’t have the safety net there to protect them when they get very aggressive therapies, which is what they need often, and so that’s one group of patients who are not getting service,” Grace continued.


He said the second group of doctors that provide oncology treatments are independent practitioners who have small practices.

“They have very, very, very thin margins, and with those thin margins, if they’re only able to practice two days a week out of five because of social distancing, or they have to not see as many patients, if you’re down 80 percent you’re beneath the margin of profit so many of those practices are going to go away,” Grace explained.

“Doctors are going to retire and you’re not going to see those oncologists and those patients will have to see other venues.”


He noted that the third venue where cancer patients can be treated is New York Cancer & Blood Specialists, which he said is “doing the best” out of the three venues during the pandemic.

“I spoke to many of my colleagues who work for them, they’re getting all the PPE’s [Personal protective equipment] they need, all the products they need to care for their patients, and they’ve noticed that they’ve been able to continue on treating those patients without any encumberment,” Grace said