Managing haematology and oncology patients during the COVID-19 pandemic: interim consensus guidance

Robert Weinkove, Zoe K. McQuilten, Jonathan Adler, Meera R. Agar, Emily Blyth, Allen C. Cheng, Rachel Conyers, Gabrielle M. Haeusler, Claire Hardie, Christopher Jackson, Steven W. Lane, Tom Middlemiss, Peter Mollee, Stephen P. Mulligan, David Ritchie, Myra Ruka, Benjamin Solomon, Jeffrey Szer, Karin A. Thursky, Erica M. WoodLeon J. Worth, Michelle K. Yong, Monica A. Slavin, Benjamin W. Teh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: A pandemic coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, causes COVID-19, a potentially life-threatening respiratory disease. Patients with cancer may have compromised immunity due to their malignancy and/or treatment, and may be at elevated risk of severe COVID-19. Community transmission of COVID-19 could overwhelm health care services, compromising delivery of cancer care. This interim consensus guidance provides advice for clinicians managing patients with cancer during the pandemic. Main recommendations: During the COVID-19 pandemic:. In patients with cancer with fever and/or respiratory symptoms, consider causes in addition to COVID-19, including other infections and therapy-related pneumonitis. For suspected or confirmed COVID-19, discuss temporary cessation of cancer therapy with a relevant specialist. Provide information on COVID-19 for patients and carers. Adopt measures within cancer centres to reduce risk of nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 acquisition; support population-wide social distancing; reduce demand on acute services; ensure adequate staffing; and provide culturally safe care. Measures should be equitable, transparent and proportionate to the COVID-19 threat. Consider the risks and benefits of modifying cancer therapies due to COVID-19. Communicate treatment modifications, and review once health service capacity allows. Consider potential impacts of COVID-19 on the blood supply and availability of stem cell donors. Discuss and document goals of care, and involve palliative care services in contingency planning. Changes in management as a result of this statement: This interim consensus guidance provides a framework for clinicians managing patients with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic. In view of the rapidly changing situation, clinicians must also monitor national, state, local and institutional policies, which will take precedence. Endorsed by: Australasian Leukaemia and Lymphoma Group; Australasian Lung Cancer Trials Group; Australian and New Zealand Children's Haematology/Oncology Group; Australia and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine; Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases; Bone Marrow Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand; Cancer Council Australia; Cancer Nurses Society of Australia; Cancer Society of New Zealand; Clinical Oncology Society of Australia; Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand; National Centre for Infections in Cancer; New Zealand Cancer Control Agency; New Zealand Society for Oncology; and Palliative Care Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-489
Number of pages9
JournalThe Medical Journal of Australia
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • COVID-19
  • Hematologic neoplasms
  • Immunosuppression
  • Virus diseases

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