Onc Daily: 80K Missed Cancer Diagnoses, Generic Imatinib

Nick Mulcahy

May 06, 2020

Here are the most important stories that Medscape Oncology's editors picked for you to read today.

80,000 Missed Cancer Diagnoses in 3 Months

A total of 80,000-plus diagnoses of five common cancers in the United States are projected to be missed or delayed during the 3-month period of early March to early June because of COVID-19 disruptions to healthcare, according to a report using a medical claims database by the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science.

In the analysis, which is not peer-reviewed, screening and monitoring tests for breast, prostate, colorectal, cervical, and lung cancer were down 39% to 90% during the week ending April 10 compared with the baseline month of February.

The report also showed that overall patient interactions with oncologists were down by 20% through April 3, but there was variation by tumor type.

The American report comes soon after an analysis from the United Kingdom predicted that the current pandemic will result in 6270 excess deaths among cancer patients 1 year from now in England and 33,890 excess deaths among cancer patients in the United States.

Generic Imatinib Cuts Costs Without Affecting CML Outcomes

Switching from branded imatinib (Glivec/Gleevec, Novartis) to a generic for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) can lead to huge cost savings without compromising patient outcomes or safety, suggest the results of a UK analysis involving 43 patients.

The research was published as an abstract from the British Society for Haematology 60th Annual Scientific Meeting, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aid for Those Dying of COVID-19: An Illustrated Essay

"You might wonder what palliative care specialists have to do amid the rising toll of this pandemic," says Nathan A. Gray, MD, a palliative care clinician at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, as well as a writer and an illustrator. In a creation that brings all of his talents together, Gray describes his team's role with COVID-19 patients, as most die "in relative isolation."

NCI Takes on Some COVID-19 Work

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) says it has jumped into the mix of the US government effort to evaluate and validate commercially available antibody tests for SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. There is great interest in developing such tests, which identify past or current infection, in order to chart the course of the pandemic.

As of the first week in May, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is in charge of reviewing medical tests and devices, has authorized emergency use of 12 different antibody tests. But there are "many more" tests available and in need of assessment.

The NCI is well suited for helping out with this work, says the agency, "because of its robust research infrastructure, including expertise in human papillomavirus vaccines and an advanced serology laboratory."

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