Scientists to study how lung cancer radiotherapy is affected by COVID-19
A new national project investigating changes in radiotherapy services during COVID-19 has been launched by a team of Manchester cancer clinicians.
The project, Lung Radiotherapy during COVID-19 (COVID-RT Lung), aims to build a national database assessing radiotherapy treatments for lung cancer patients during the pandemic, and how this has affected patient outcomes. The project is also highlighting how NHS services across Greater Manchester are working as one to provide care and treatment for patients, as well as ensuring their safety during the pandemic.
Led by The Christie’s Professor Corinne Faivre-Finn, Dr Kathryn Banfill and Dr Gareth Price, and supported by the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), it is hoped the project will shed light on changes in the management of lung cancer patients and treatments during the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impact on patients outcomes.
Lung cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy often have multiple medical problems. They are at much higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19, which may require a hospital stay or ventilation to help them breath
Professor Faivre-Finn is a researcher in the BRC’s Advanced Radiotherapy theme, alongside roles as Professor of Thoracic Oncology at The University of Manchester, and Honorary Consultant at The Christie. She recently published guidelines into radiotherapy treatments for lung cancer patients during COVID-19, alongside other UK oncologists. She said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic presents many challenges to treating lung cancer patients. Lung cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy often have multiple medical problems. They are at much higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19, which may require a hospital stay or ventilation to help them breath.
“The pandemic means we will likely have to make some changes to services and treatment across the whole of the UK for quite some time, until we have a vaccine. Our recent recommendations aim to make treatment as safe as possible by reducing the number of hospital visits, which minimises the risk of exposing patients to coronavirus in hospital. This is done by altering the dosage or length of radiotherapy treatments, with some patients being given a high dose of targeted radiotherapy instead of surgery, while others will have fewer radiotherapy sessions but with an increased dose.
“With the COVID-RT Lung project, we’re working with hospitals across the UK to build a national picture on how radiotherapy treatments are changing to manage these risks. We now need to understand whether these changes will affect outcomes for patients.”
Dr Kathryn Banfill, Clinical Research Fellow at The University of Manchester, added:
“COVID-RT Lung collects data on all lung cancer patients having radiotherapy during the COVID-19 pandemic, including those having these adapted radiotherapy schedules. We’re looking at data on a patient’s age, gender, other medical conditions, level of fitness, as well as cancer treatment and outcome, to understand the effect of changes in UK radiotherapy guidelines and services during the pandemic.