Integrated Survival Estimates for Cancer Treatment Delay among Adults with Cancer during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Holly E. Hartman, Yilun Sun, Theresa P. Devasia, Elizabeth C. Chase, Neil K. Jairath, Robert T. Dess, William C. Jackson, Emily Morris, Pin Li, Kimberly A. Hochstedler, Madeline R. Abbott, Kelley M. Kidwell, Vonn Walter, Ming Wang, Xi Wang, Nicholas G. Zaorsky, Matthew J. Schipper, Daniel E. Spratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (SciVal)


Importance: Cancer treatment delay has been reported to variably impact cancer-specific survival and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-specific mortality during the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 pandemic. During the pandemic, treatment delay is being recommended in a nonquantitative, nonobjective, and nonpersonalized manner, and this approach may be associated with suboptimal outcomes. Quantitative integration of cancer mortality estimates and data on the consequences of treatment delay is needed to aid treatment decisions and improve patient outcomes. Objective: To obtain quantitative integration of cancer-specific and COVID-19-specific mortality estimates that can be used to make optimal decisions for individual patients and optimize resource allocation. Design, Setting, and Participants: In this decision analytical model, age-specific and stage-specific estimates of overall survival pre-COVID-19 were adjusted by the probability of COVID-19 (individualized by county, treatment-specific variables, hospital exposure frequency, and COVID-19 infectivity estimates), COVID-19 mortality (individualized by age-specific, comorbidity-specific, and treatment-specific variables), and delay of cancer treatment (impact and duration). These model estimates were integrated into a web application (OncCOVID) to calculate estimates of the cumulative overall survival and restricted mean survival time of patients who received immediate vs delayed cancer treatment. Using currently available information about COVID-19, a susceptible-infected-recovered model that accounted for the increased risk among patients at health care treatment centers was developed. This model integrated the data on cancer mortality and the consequences of treatment delay to aid treatment decisions. Age-specific and cancer stage-specific estimates of overall survival pre-COVID-19 were extracted from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database for 691 854 individuals with 25 cancer types who received cancer diagnoses in 2005 to 2006. Data from 5436896 individuals in the National Cancer Database were used to estimate the independent impact of treatment delay by cancer type and stage. In addition, data from 275 patients in a nested case-control study were used to estimate the COVID-19 mortality rate by age group and number of comorbidities. Data were analyzed from March 17 to May 21, 2020. Exposures: COVID-19 and cancer. Main Outcomes and Measures: Estimates of restricted mean survival time after the receipt of immediate vs delayed cancer treatment. Results: At the time of the study, the OncCOVID web application allowed for the selection of up to 47 individualized variables to assess net survival for an individual patient with cancer. Substantial heterogeneity was found regarding the association between delayed cancer treatment and net survival among patients with a given cancer type and stage, and these 2 variables were insufficient to discriminate the net impact of immediate vs delayed treatment. Individualized overall survival estimates were associated with patient age, number of comorbidities, treatment received, and specific local community estimates of COVID-19 risk. Conclusions and Relevance: This decision analytical modeling study found that the OncCOVID web-based application can quantitatively aid in the resource allocation of individualized treatment for patients with cancer during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1881-1889
Number of pages9
JournalJAMA Oncology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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