Cancer in Lockdown: Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Patients with Cancer

Harsha Moraliyage, Daswin De Silva, Weranja Ranasinghe, Achini Adikari, Damminda Alahakoon, Raj Prasad, Nathan Lawrentschuk, Damien Bolton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


The lockdown measures of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have disengaged patients with cancer from formal health care settings, leading to an increased use of social media platforms to address unmet needs and expectations. Although remote health technologies have addressed some of the medical needs, the emotional and mental well-being of these patients remain underexplored and underreported. We used a validated artificial intelligence framework to conduct a comprehensive real-time analysis of two data sets of 2,469,822 tweets and 21,800 discussions by patients with cancer during this pandemic. Lung and breast cancer are most prominently discussed, and the most concerns were expressed regarding delayed diagnosis, cancellations, missed treatments, and weakened immunity. All patients expressed significant negative sentiment, with fear being the predominant emotion. Even as some lockdown measures ease, it is crucial that patients with cancer are engaged using social media platforms for real-time identification of issues and the provision of informational and emotional support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e342-e344
Number of pages3
JournalThe Oncologist
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes

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