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Review article: Biomedical intelligence

Vol. 152 No. 0506 (2022)

Surgical management of lung cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic – a narrative review and single-centre report

  • Raphael S. Werner
  • Andreas Lörtscher
  • Michaela B. Kirschner
  • Olivia Lauk
  • Katarzyna Furrer
  • Claudio Caviezel
  • Didier Schneiter
  • Ilhan Inci
  • Sven Hillinger
  • Alessandra Curioni-Fontecedro
  • Isabelle Opitz
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2022;152:w30109


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had a severe impact on oncological and thoracic surgical practice worldwide. In many hospitals, the care of COVID-19 patients required a reduction of elective surgery, to avoid viral transmission within the hospital, and to save and preserve personnel and material resources. Cancer patients are more susceptible to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and are at an increased risk of a severe course of disease. In many patients with lung cancer, this risk is further increased owing to comorbidities, older age and a pre-existing lung disease. Surgical resection is an important part of the treatment in patients with early stage or locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer, but the treatment of these patients during the COVID-19 pandemic becomes a challenging balance between the risk of patient exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and the need to provide timely and adequate cancer treatment despite limited hospital capacities. This manuscript aims to provide an overview of the surgical treatment of lung cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic including the triage and prioritisation as well as the surgical approach, and our own experience with cancer surgery during the first pandemic wave. We furthermore aim to highlight the risk and potential consequences of delayed lung cancer treatment due to the deferral of surgery, screening appointments and follow-up visits. With much attention being diverted to COVID-19, it is important to retain awareness of cancer patients, maintain oncological surgery and avoid treatment delay during the pandemic.


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