The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Latin American radiation therapy services has not yet been widely assessed. In comparison to centers in Europe or the United States, the scarcity of data on these terms might impair design of adequate measures to ameliorate the pandemic’s potential damage. The first survey-based analysis revealing regional information is herein presented.
From May 6 to May 30, 2020, the American Society for Radiation Oncology’s COVID-19 Survey was distributed across Latin America with support of the local national radiation therapy societies. Twenty-six items, including facility demographic and financial characteristics, personnel and patient features, current and expected impact of the pandemic, and research perspectives, were included in the questionnaire.
Complete responses were obtained from 115 (50%) of 229 practices across 15 countries. Only 2.6% of centers closed during the pandemic. A median of 4 radiation oncologists (1-27) and 9 (1-100) radiation therapists were reported per center. The median number of new patients treated in 2019 was 600 (24-6200). A median 8% (1%-90%) decrease in patient volume was reported, with a median of 53 patients (1-490) remaining under treatment. Estimated revenue reduction was 20% or more in 53% of cases. Shortage of personal protective equipment was reported in 51.3% of centers, and 27% reported personnel shortage due to COVID-19. Reported delays in treatment for low-risk entities included early stage breast cancer (42.6%), low-risk status prostate cancer (67%), and nonmalignant conditions (42.6%). Treatment of COVID-19 patients at designated treatment times and differentiated bunkers were reported in 22.6% and 10.4% of centers, respectively. Telehealth initiatives have been started in 64.3% of facilities to date for on-treatment (29.6%) and posttreatment (34.8%) patients.
Regional information regarding COVID-19 pandemic in Latin America may help elucidate suitable intervention strategies for personnel and patients. Follow-up surveys will be performed to provide dynamic monitoring the pandemic’s impact on radiation therapy services and adoption of ameliorating measures.
Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.