Cancer and COVID-19

The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) is keenly aware of the monumental challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has created for cancer organisations, people living with cancer and their caregivers. UICC also recognises the innovative responses and adaptations that they have implemented to maintain progress in the fight against cancer. 

To address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic around the world, UICC has strengthened support for its members and continues to work with partners such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international bodies. 

UICC's Virtual Dialogues were launched in May 2020 to connect members, facilitate knowledge sharing and provide expert insights. Furthermore, UICC has joined the COVID-19 and Cancer Task Force to help assess the impact of COVID-19 on cancer outcomes and reinforce collaborations between infectious disease and cancer modellers.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, UICC has been giving voice to its members and partners in their response to the unprecedented challenges they face. These stories highlight that while the pandemic is threatening the progress being made in the fight against cancer, it has also created the opportunity to address systemic weaknesses in many national health systems. 



Innovations and adaptations in response to COVID-19

Organisations and healthcare workers are rallying across the globe to support patients, resume screenings and diagnostics, maintain awareness on the need for prevention and provide a safe environment for treatment. Volunteers have mobilised to deliver medication and even food to patients in need, or ensure transportation to care centres. The private sector is developing innovative technologies to reduce the time spent in care settings while maintaining quality of treatment. Digital technology is allowing doctors and research centres to collaborate and share knowledge at a global level, and accelerating the move towards greater patient-centred care.

Access a report collating examples of adaptations that have emerged for the safe restoration and continuation of cancer services, or explore the many articles below.

Innovations and adaptations in response to COVID-19 articles
Two medical practioners in personal protective equipment at a makeshift COVID-19 hospital in India.
13 September 2021

Cancer care in India during COVID-19: lessons learned and innovations

While India tragically made international headlines in April 2021 with the emergence of Delta variant of COVID-19, cancer care suffered less in that deadly wave due to lessons learned from the first wave in 2020.

Staff at Esperantra, a patient assistance and advocacy organisation in Peru
26 August 2021

Cancer and COVID-19 in Peru: cancer advocacy success in the midst of a deadly pandemic

Cancer screenings and treatments have dropped dramatically in Peru due to COVID-19, which has strained an already fragile health system and exacted a heavy toll on cancer services. Yet UICC member Esperantra continues to advocate successfully for improved and more equitable access to cancer care.

Senior African woman receiving the COVID-19 vaccine
27 April 2021

How COVID-19 vaccines could help put cancer care back on track

Dany Habr, Chief Medical Officer, Pfizer Oncology, shares his perspective on what the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines could mean for the cancer community and the important lessons that Pfizer has learned throughout the pandemic.

The pandemic has caused many disruptions to essential health services, including routine immunisation. Two countries, Uganda and Mauritania, where PATH provides technical assistance for HPV vaccine, successfully adapted their programmes.
24 April 2021

Adapting HPV vaccine programmes in the COVID-19 pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit and schools closed, girls in Uganda weren’t only missing out on in-person learning but also access to HPV vaccination. An inside look from Tara Newton at PATH on the occasion of World Immunization Week.

Daiichi Sankyo is working hand-in-hand with the UICC in a number of forums to ensure the cancer community can stay informed and feel connected and empowered even while socially distanced
29 January 2021

Collective resilience: adapting as a community to the pandemic

Daiichi Sankyo’s Gissoo DeCotiis examines the resilience of the cancer community in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, and what those new challenges mean for future progress beyond COVID-19.

Macmillan Cancer Support in the UK has being doing whatever it takes to adapt to the ever-evolving health situation and ensure the continuation of its crucial support during this challenging time
28 January 2021

Working hard to ensure cancer is not the forgotten ‘C’

Lynda Thomas details the impact COVID-19 has had on cancer care in the UK, and how Macmillan Cancer Support has responded to continue providing support and ensure that cancer is not forgotten.

Oncosalud in Peru took effective measures to mitigate the disruptions in cancer care due to COVID-19
25 January 2021

COVID-19 and cancer control in Peru: the response of a private oncology centre

Dr Carlos Vallejos Sologuren, Medical Director and Founder of Oncosalud as well as Former Minister of Health of Peru, describes in this blog how a strategy was developed on order to continue treating cancer patients.

A comprehensive national cancer control plan can help ensure the continued delivery of cancer care even during a pandemic or other public health crisis
22 January 2021

Why cancer control is fundamental during a pandemic

Experts from UICC and other institutions co-author an editorial in IJC on the importance for countries to develop and implement a national cancer control plan, even as the pandemic continues to strain health systems.

Cancer services have continued to operate at the University of Malaya Medical Centre through the pandemic with minimal in-hospital infections.
15 January 2021

Cancer care during COVID-19 in Malaysia: focusing on prevention and primary care

In an interview with UICC, Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, speaks of how the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Malaya managed the outbreak of COVID-19.

Bill Anderson of Roche shines the light on the the everyday heroes who ensured people with cancer continue to get the care they need
7 January 2021

Beyond the headlines lie unsung heroes

Bill Anderson of Roche Pharmaceuticals shines a light on the herculean efforts of unsung heroes to ensure the continued availability of essential medicines and care through the pandemic.

Despite the challenges oF COVID-19, CCS quickly found ways to adapt to the realities of COVID-19
5 January 2021

Facing a pandemic head on: How CCS took bold action to continue supporting the most vulnerable

CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) Andrea Seale has been invited to share how her organisation found ways to ensure that Canadians affected by cancer were not alone during the pandemic.

Thinking Pink Breast Cancer Foundation is one of the only acting organisations in Sierra Leone working on raising awareness about breast cancer and bringing treatment to all Sierra Leoneans. Here, CEO Ms Pratt with former UICC presdient, Princess Dina Mired.
17 December 2020

How breast cancer patients in Sierra Leone are affected by COVID-19

In a country with extremely low resources, Thinking Pink Breast Cancer Foundation has made incredible strides and is now working to address the halt in treatments and funding due to COVID-19. Blog by its founder, Mrs Cremelda Parkinson Pratt.

UICC member and Manager of Education and Prevention at Sociedad Anticancerosa de Venezuela (Venezuelan Anti-Cancer Society)
9 November 2020

Confronting Cancer and COVID-19 in Venezuela

César Miranda, UICC member and Manager of Education and Prevention at Sociedad Anticancerosa de Venezuela, speaks about the current challenges facing a global pandemic in the context of political instability and a weak health system.

The cancer community is adapting and innovating in response to disruptions in cancer care due to COVID-19 (picture taken at the University Hospital Hassan II, Morocco)
6 November 2020

Cancer beyond COVID-19: reimagining cancer screening and diagnosis

The first UICC Virtual Dialogue in the series dedicated to the changing landscape in cancer care due to COVID-19 addressed service disruptions in screening and diagnosis caused by the pandemic and suggested innovative solutions and practices crucial to saving lives.

Doctor administrating vaccination to girl
22 July 2020

UICC welcomes the WHO & UNICEF response to a decline in vaccinations

Recent data from WHO and UNICEF highlights a worrying decline in child vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Older adults face bias and inequity in healthcare and cumulative risks for COVID-19
9 July 2020

Cancer care for older adults during COVID-19

Experts at a Virtual Dialogue hosted by UICC weighed in on the inequities and bias faced by older cancer patients in accessing healthcare and their cumulative risks for COVID-19.

Light Backgrounds, Jewellery, Ornament
1 July 2020

Getting through COVID-19: innovating and collaborating like never before

Michael Oberreiter, Global Head of Access at Roche, reflects on the innovative solutions that have come out of the coronavirus pandemic and how they could make a positive impact on the lives of cancer patients going forward.

People in business attire talking
25 June 2020

NCDs and COVID-19: using law to act on NCDs during the pandemic

Governments and health officials are mobilising like never before to control the spread of the coronavirus and care for people who have been infected.

Disruptions to cancer care

Cancer organisations around the world struggle to maintain delivery of their life-saving services as a result of the pandemic, not only due to a drop in resources but also because of the necessary measures enacted to contain the spread of the coronavirus and fears of contagion on the part of patients.

Reports highlight exacerbated shortages in frontline staff, sometimes redirected to the COVID-19 response; interruptions and delays in prevention programmes, diagnostics and testing, clinical trials and research; difficulties in engaging in community outreach with restrictions on travel and social gathering; and greater barriers to accessing essential medicines in low- and middle-income countries.

Disruptions to cancer care articles
Photo of the Cancer Association of Namibia team
16 August 2021

A new surge in COVID-19 sets cancer care in Namibia back by over a decade

For countries, such as Namibia, it is far too early to talk about “post-COVID-19” as the pandemic will strain capacity of health systems for years to come, compromising the ability to address delays in cancer care.

Virtual health nurse care coordinator (c) Jason W Edwards, US Army
24 June 2020

Addressing the challenges to the cancer community raised by COVID-19

Three UICC virtual Members Dialogues held in May and June provided insights and recommendations for some of the major challenges facing the cancer community amidst the coronavirus pandemic. 

Disruptions to cancer services due to COVID-19
3 June 2020

WHO report highlights severe disruptions to cancer services due to COVID-19

It is encouraging to see WHO pay attention to cancer and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) during the COVID-19 pandemic with the publication of a preliminary assessment on service delivery for NCDs.

test tubes in laboratory
27 May 2020

The Impact of Coronavirus on Cancer Diagnosis and Testing

There has been a significant drop in cancer testing and diagnosis due to measures implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19, leading to concern about the long-term consequences.

NCSM covid response providing PPE to health workers.jpg
21 May 2020

Holding up the end of the line: our role as cancer civil society organisations

UICC Young Leader, Dr Murallitharan Munisamy, highlights the critical need for cancer civil society organisations (CSOs) to continue to function during the global coronavirus pandemic.

Vaccination in Kenya - USAID US Agency for International Development
11 May 2020

Cancer and coronavirus in Africa: the challenges facing volunteer organisations

Cancer patients and organisations in Africa face increased challenges due to coronavirus in terms of access to affordable medicines, lack of knowledge, fundraising and community outreach for diagnoses and vaccinations.

NASA Blue Marble-Americas.png
29 April 2020

Cancer and Coronavirus – long-term repercussions and funding issues

Members in Spain and Latin America shared insights and experiences in the second UICC webinar on cancer and coronavirus.

28 April 2020

UICC joins COVID-19 and Cancer Task Force

UICC has joined a COVID-19 and Cancer Task Force to help assess the impact of COVID-19 on cancer outcomes and strengthen collaborations between infectious disease and cancer modellers.

Interview cancer advocate.png
21 April 2020

Coronavirus in LMICs: effective advocacy in the face of adversity

UICC Member organisations play an important role in national advocacy to address the additional challenges posed by the coronavirus for cancer treatment, support, funding and control in their countries.

Photo of a nurse wearing. face mask
16 April 2020

Providing safe environments for cancer patients during the coronavirus pandemic

The global coronavirus outbreak has affected nearly two million people to date. This has placed a heavy burden on the healthcare system and its capacity to respond to demand.

Masked health worker - Cancer care and coronavirus
31 March 2020

Coronavirus and Cancer Care: planning, informing, assisting and giving hope

UICC has reached out to its global membership to ask how the situation has impacted them, as well as caregivers and patients, in their activities, delivery of services and receipt of treatment.

UICC's Virtual Dialogues on cancer and COVID-19

Since May 2020, UICC has organised several Virtual Dialogues, providing insights into some of the major challenges facing the cancer community amidst the coronavirus pandemic and exploring possible responses and solutions to these challenges. 

Explore our virtual offer: UICC's Virtual Dialogues
UICC joins COVID-19 and Cancer Task Force
Last update: 
Monday 7 March 2022