The Impact of COVID in Oncology in 2022: Fallout from the Pandemic

February 2022 Vol 13, No 2
Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG
Editor-in-Chief, JONS; Co-Founder, AONN+; University Distinguished Service Professor of Breast Cancer, Professor of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Co-Developer, Work Stride-Managing Cancer at Work, Johns Hopkins Healthcare Solutions

Dear Navigators, Social Workers, Administrators, and Clinical Staff,

We are entering the third year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Omicron variant seems to be diminishing, we cannot deny the impact the virus has had on our oncology clinics.

Cancer statistics for 2020 and 2021 will appear unusually low because people across the country canceled or delayed cancer screenings. As people feel safe to return to medical facilities and resume cancer screenings, we will see an increase in diagnoses. As a result, 2022 will likely see a much higher number of cancer diagnoses when compared to the previous 2 years. Likely, this will include more cases of late-stage cancers. This situation will continue to tax our operating rooms, chemotherapy infusion centers, and radiation facilities.

While the impact of COVID has had a largely negative impact for our oncology patients, there is a positive I’ve witnessed over the past 2 years. Many medical oncologists were compelled by the current environment to have thoughtful and candid conversations with patients with advanced cancers about enrolling in hospice care at home rather than continuing to receive treatments that were more toxic and were known to have little if any benefit. These conversations were necessary as doctors knew that when the patients became ill from the treatments and needed hospitalization, there would likely be no beds available.

I hope that oncology professionals have learned the benefit of initiating the hospice conversation at the right time, rather than discussing discontinuation of treatments only when the patient is too ill to receive another infusion therapy. It seems many times we only offer hospice care for a week or two, when in truth, hospice care is designed for up to 6 months of care. Patients who are enrolled earlier live longer, maintain a better quality of life, and have time to get closure with their family and with themselves.

With aging baby boomers and pandemic-related delayed cancer diagnoses, we can expect the number of people diagnosed with cancer to grow. It’s easy to predict the need for effective navigation to grow as well. I am hopeful that the number of oncology nurse navigators and members of AONN+ will continue to grow to keep up with the needs of patients.

As always, thank you for your dedication to our profession and your membership and participation in AONN+.


Lillie Digital Signature

Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG
Editor-in-Chief, JONS

University Distinguished Service Professor of Breast Cancer; Professor of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Co-Developer of Work Stride: Managing Cancer at Work, Johns Hopkins Healthcare Solutions; Co-Founder of AONN+; Co-Founder of the Association of Chronic & Complex Care Nurse Navigators (ACCCNN).
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Related Articles
National Nurses Month: Celebrating the Impact of Nurses
Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG
May 2023 Vol 14, No 5
All day, every day, nurses make all the difference in delivering high-quality care to those who need it the most. On behalf of all of us at AONN+, I want to recognize the nurses in our community for their invaluable contributions to healthcare.
Will Your Team Receive an Exceptional Research in Navigation Award?
Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG
April 2023 Vol 14, No 4
The abstract submission portal is open, and our expert peer-reviewers are standing by, awaiting your evidence-based navigation research studies, quality improvement projects, and best practices to consider for inclusion at the AONN+ Annual Conference.
A Community of Navigators, 2.1K Strong!
March 2023 Vol 14, No 3
I would like to extend a personal invitation to each of you to join our private AONN+ Facebook group.
Last modified: November 15, 2022

Subscribe Today!

To sign up for our print publication or e-newsletter, please enter your contact information below.

I'd like to receive:

  • First Name *
    Last Name *
    Profession or Role
    Primary Specialty or Disease State