AACR Releases Groundbreaking Report on COVID-19 and Cancer

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a devastating toll, with 5.8 million deaths worldwide, including nearly 1 million in the United States alone.

The pandemic’s effects have rippled through virtually every facet of life, shuttering businesses and schools, halting travel, and disrupting the global economy.

The cancer community has been profoundly affected. On Wednesday, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) released the AACR Report on the Impact of COVID-19 on Cancer Research and Patient Care, providing a comprehensive view of the burden of COVID-19 among patients with cancer, and exploring the ways the pandemic affected cancer research and patient care.

For patients with cancer, the pandemic’s toll has been felt in a myriad of ways:

  • A young mother preparing to start a clinical trial contracts COVID-19, delaying her access to cancer treatment.
  • A physician who suffers from leukemia acts quickly to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but learns that his cancer renders the vaccines mostly ineffective.
  • A patient with Lynch syndrome has her regularly scheduled colonoscopy canceled. When the procedure takes place months later, precancerous polyps have begun to grow.
  • A self-described extrovert embraces the benefits of telemedicine, but struggles with the loneliness of social distancing.

These patients graciously shared their stories with the AACR and the public on Wednesday during a virtual briefing on the report. This video shines a light on how the pandemic changed nearly every aspect of cancer patients’ experience.

Early in the pandemic, the AACR established a COVID-19 and Cancer Task Force to help guide the AACR’s leadership in policies and initiatives related to the pandemic. Wednesday’s report encompasses the full range of the AACR’s efforts.

“This is the culmination of the AACR’s work over the past two years to support cancer researchers and patients with cancer through the pandemic,” said Antoni Ribas, MD, PhD, FAACR. Ribas, who is immediate Past President of the AACR, was the chair of the Steering Committee for the report and is the chair of the AACR COVID-19 and Cancer Task Force.

The report concludes with a call to action, led by a request for Congress to provide at least $10 billion to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and its grantees. Furthermore, the AACR calls for Congress to support robust, sustained, and predictable growth for NIH and the National Cancer Institute. The AACR also asks for Congress to enact policies that broaden health care coverage and reduce inequities in access to health care, such as expanding Medicaid; and to support policies that help diversify clinical trial populations.

“I am very proud of this comprehensive and first-of-its-kind report, which lays out a path to rebuild our public health infrastructure, enhance medical research, and modernize patient care,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer of the AACR.

Wednesday’s report received significant media coverage, including stories by CBS Philly and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The report garnered more than 3 million impressions on Twitter within 24 hours.

Here’s a guide to the AACR’s resources on COVID-19 and cancer. Next week, our blog will feature a closer look at the patients who shared their stories in the report. We’ll continue to publish important studies in our journals, and upcoming meetings will feature the latest information on this critical topic.

Website for the AACR Report on the Impact of COVID-19 on Cancer Research and Patient Care

AACR press release on the report

Website for the AACR COVID-19 and Cancer Task Force

Stories of patients whose cancer treatment has been affected by the pandemic

The briefing on the COVID-19 and Cancer report

Follow the conversation on Twitter via the hashtag #AACRCOVIDReport

COVID snapshot graphic