Cancer and COVID-19: An update on care and research at Ohio State amid the pandemic

 Senior woman with mask receiving COVID vaccine
As COVID-19 continues to dominate much of the world’s health care systems, experts at Ohio State continue to provide cutting-edge care to patients while conducting research to bring us closer to a cancer-free world.

“Our cancer patients are truly remarkable,” says David Cohn, MD, MBA, FACHE, chief medical officer of the OSUCCC – James. “The vast majority are fully vaccinated and fully boosted, and that’s been a key to their protection [from COVID-19].”

Another factor in that protection is the dedication of oncologists and their colleagues, like those at The James, whose commitment to their patients has continued amid COVID-19, even as the pandemic has taken physical and emotional tolls on health care workers at Ohio State and around the world.

“We are centered on our patients, and that’s our grounding,” Cohn says. “We’re an amazing and resilient team, and that’s what keeps us together and moving forward every day.”

Cohn goes in-depth on the current state of cancer treatment and research amid COVID-19 on our Cancer-Free World Podcast. Listen via the video player below or on SoundCloud.

The immune system of a cancer patient can be compromised before and during treatment, which underscores the urgency of vaccination for these people. However, there is one small group of cancer patients, those in the midst of a bone marrow treatment, who should not be vaccinated until this specific treatment is completed, their immune systems have recovered and they get the go-ahead from their oncologists.

Unfortunately, the number of cancer screenings, including colonoscopies, mammograms and Pap tests, have gone down significantly during the pandemic.

“Screenings have gone down as much as 80 percent," Cohn says, adding that the numbers have since gone up but have yet to return to normal.

Detecting and removing pre-cancerous polyps during colonoscopies, and detecting breast cancer and gynecologic cancers in their earliest, most treatable stages saves lives, which is why Cohn and his colleagues continue to sound the alarm about the need for screening.

Accurate, early cancer diagnosis matters

The James Cancer Diagnostic Center gives patients direct, expedited access to diagnostic testing and consultation with Ohio State cancer experts. Think you have cancer?

Schedule an appointment today

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