The Cancer Drug Development Forum – CDDF is the platform for all stakeholders involved in the development of cancer drugs.

The Cancer Drug Development Forum (CDDF) held a live webinar on “COVID-19 and Cancer – Time for a Reset to repair the damage done  on Monday 15 January 2024 at 17:00 (CET) / 11:00 (EST). In this webinar,  Mark Lawler (Queen’s University Belfast & CDDF), Ajay Aggarwal (The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) and Debbie Keatley (Cancer Research UK) provided interesting talks followed by a Q&A discussion moderated by Ruth Plummer (Newcastle University & CDDF). Here are key takeaways from the webinar:

  1. The importance of accurate and timely data intelligence in highlighting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdowns on cancer patients and cancer services
  2. The need to use data to patients’ advantage/future benefit and find a balance between data privacy and data utility
  3. The sheer scale of the problem – 100 million cancer screening tests not performed in Europe, as many as 1 million cancer diagnoses missed
  4. The impact on the workforce – 4 out of 10 cancer health professionals worn out; 3 out of 10 with evidence of clinical depression
  5. Significant impact on projected 5 year survival – may have set us back a decade
  6. Pragmatic solutions – e.g. Special Network on COVID and Cancer and 7 Point Plan – European Cancer Organisation (ECO)- particularly relevant in addressing the backlog ( )
  7. Importance of campaigning and lobbying – Time To Act Campaign from ECO Special Network  (
  8. Evidence of more patients being diagnosed than pre-pandemic, health systems need to consider options for increasing capacity within the context of revised cancer control plans.
  9. Strategies to improve waiting times and reduce backlogs need to ensure we are able to deliver ever more complex evidence based-care pathways , ensure recruitment of patients to trials and assure quality of care.

[Key takeaways from a patient perspective – Debbie Keatley]

  1. It Is indeed high time for a reset, but we must demand support to create the conditions that will allow time for this reset. It won’t happen without extra intervention in the shape of strengthened public health measures.
  2. Many cancer patients are still anxious about attending hospital and outpatient appointments and this is a perfectly rational response to the removal of protections. This isn’t covid anxiety but self-preservation.
  3. Costs and benefits of protective measures from another viewpoint:
    • Apart from a plea for compassion and humanity, I question the individual cost benefit analysis of treating cancer patients with drugs regimes that can cost thousands of euros/month while not doing more to protect them or their clinicians from infection that can make them ill, interrupt time sensitive treatments, with a long list of potentially catastrophic direct and indirect impacts on patients.
    • Direct cost-benefit analysis shows that mitigating and suppressing COVID-19 is highly beneficial at a population level (ref available)
    • Are we collectively confident of the willingness of patients to continue to take part in new clinical trials in healthcare settings where they may not feel safe? I think fewer patients may be willing to sign up to trials that require travel to and treatment in healthcare settings. Longer trials = more costly trials..
  4. We need to see a step change in access to personalised medicine – for all the reasons I’ve highlighted above it’s imperative that as many patients as possible are on treatments tailored to the individual. It’s also imperative that we stop giving patients treatments that make them more vulnerable to infection when the treatment is not likely to be effective for them. This needs concerted investment in patient clinician communication and relationship building and in an ideal world, or a better world, continuity of care.
  5. Research on the impact of Covid on cancer treatments in patients is necessary but comes with an opportunity cost,  as there’s a finite amount of research funding and capacity.

🔶Watch the webinar recording HERE
🔶View the key takeaway video HERE

Cancer Drug Development Forum asbl
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