Letters to the Editor: Coronavirus isn’t making cancer less deadly. Patients need treatment now

A patient’s chemotherapy medication is placed on an IV stand at a hospital in Philadelphia in 2015.
(Matt Rourke / Associated Press)

To the editor: Cancer doesn’t wait for the coronavirus pandemic. According to the American Cancer Society, 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with cancer monthly, 100,000 of whom require surgery. (“We are losing ground on every other disease while fighting COVID-19,” Opinion, April 21)

These operations are not “elective” in the sense that they are optional or can be delayed unduly. Responsibly managing patients’ health with treatments can in some cases lead to cures when done before the cancer spreads.

Comprehensive cancer centers are hard at work to provide this sort of care, all while prioritizing the care of pandemic victims and minimizing the risks to other patients and healthcare providers. We are aligned with the Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services’ guidelines to provide non-emergent, non-COVID-19 healthcare. We are treating patients now to avoid stressing cancer care resources when the pandemic has ended.


The battle against cancer still needs to be fought. We serve our patients steadfastly as we strive to end the scourge of cancer.

By acting responsibly now, we aim to avoid a “second surge” of patients on the heels of the pandemic, which would further burden the healthcare system’s recovery. Let’s avoid this and not defer care.

Richard Bold, MD, Sacramento

Timothy Donahue, MD, Los Angeles

Bold is physician-in-chief at the UC Davis Health Comprehensive Cancer Center. Donahue is chief of the division of surgical oncology at UCLA Health.