Mesothelioma Treatment, Clinical Trials Impacted by COVID-19

All around the country people’s lives have been turned upside down by COVID-19, but perhaps none so much as those who were already dealing with the unthinkable — a mesothelioma diagnosis.  Where the rest of us are rightly concerned about jobs lost or put on hold, separation from family members and friends, and the availability of food and essential supplies, those confronted by a fast-moving, life threatening form of cancer have found that the rapid response they were told was necessary is suddenly no longer available, or presents additional risk to their health, and even their lives.

Oncologist Details Delays of Mesothelioma Clinical Trials

One of the clearest indications of how the global pandemic and fears of infection have affected mesothelioma can be found in the comments made by Dr. Antoinette Wozniak, a thoracic oncologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Speaking to Mary Hesdorffer, Nurse Practitioner and Executive Director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, Dr. Wozniak detailed the many ways that her facility has been adjusting to the presence of the virus.

Dr. Wozniak explained that though some mesothelioma clinical trials are continuing, others have been placed on hold indefinitely. Similarly, though patient surgeries for malignant mesothelioma are considered essential and can move forward as planned, many have been delayed in hopes that it will be safer for patients and their family members to wait until the threat of the virus has passed.

Maine Mesothelioma Patient Speaks to Pandemic’s Impact on Her Treatment

In a recent guest column in the Bangor Daily News, mesothelioma patient Emily Ward wrote about her own experience as a 70-year-old living with cancer during the time of the pandemic. She explains that she is facing the second recurrence of the disease, and notes that she “can’t take the risk of catching this virus.”  Prior to the pandemic’s arrival in the United States she had gone for regular trips to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, but that her high risk had her turning to telemedicine before returning to the city at the end of March to begin a new chemotherapy regimen.

Those treatments are being administered in a new, proactive way, with caregivers, friends and family members no longer permitted to accompany patients, patients offered greater seclusion while waiting, and more. At home she relies on others for help with supplies and groceries and expects that she will need to continue to do so. Speaking of the future she takes an optimistic note, ending her editorial with the words, “Together, we’ll get through this.”

If you or someone you love is dealing with mesothelioma, we are here to help. Contact the Patient Advocates at today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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