Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer: A Perspective from Central Europe

Pergolini, I., Demir, I. E., Stoss, C., Emmanuel, K., Rosenberg, R., Friess, H., and Novotny, A. (2021). Dig Surg 38, 158-165. doi: 10.1159/000513157


Background: This survey aimed to register changes determined by the COVID-19 pandemic on pancreatic surgery in a specific geographic area (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) to evaluate the impact of the pandemic and obtain interesting cues for the future.

Methods: An online survey was designed using Google Forms focusing on the local impact of the pandemic on pancreatic surgery. The survey was conducted at 2 different time points, during and after the lockdown.

Results: Twenty-five respondents (25/56) completed the survey. Many aspects of oncological care have been affected with restrictions and delays: staging, tumor board, treatment selection, postoperative course, adjuvant treatments, outpatient care, and follow-up. Overall, 60% of respondents have prioritized pancreatic cancer patients according to stage, age, and comorbidities, and 40% opted not to operate high-risk patients. However, for 96% of participants, the standards of care were guaranteed.

Discussion/conclusions: The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic had an important impact on pancreatic cancer surgery in central Europe. Guidelines for prompt interventions and prevention of the spread of viral infections in the surgical environment are needed to avoid a deterioration of care in cancer patients in the event of a second wave or a new pandemic. High-volume centers for pancreatic surgery should be preferred and their activity maintained. Virtual conferences have proven to be efficient during this pandemic and should be implemented in the near future.