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New survey shows people affected by cancer feel more anxious and concerned during pandemic

An elderly woman with cancer and wearing a head covering is embracing her adult daughter. They are sitting on a couch and their foreheads are touching.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, people with cancer have been among the most vulnerable in our communities because of their higher risk of more severe outcomes from COVID-19. People with cancer are also the same people who need reliable access to Canada’s healthcare system.

With disruptions in cancer care and other services, as well as virtual healthcare appointments becoming more prevalent, CCS wanted to better understand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on people living with cancer and their caregivers through a survey that was administered earlier this summer and had respondents from all provinces and 2 territories.

“Survey results told us that the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to increased levels of anxiety and concern about receiving appropriate cancer care for both people with cancer and their caregivers,” says Laura Burnett, vice president, cancer support, national programs at CCS.

The survey also showed that both patients' and caregivers’ anxiety about receiving appropriate cancer care was highest during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, when emergency restrictions were in place from mid-March to June 2020.

“This is the first of a series of patient engagement surveys that CCS will be conducting, and results will help us ensure that CCS is effectively engaging communities of people affected by cancer to ensure that their voices are better reflected in our work,” says Julie Desharnais, vice president, strategic initiatives at CCS.

Caregivers also reported a higher level of anxiety than patients at all points throughout the pandemic. These respondents reported feeling concerned about the person they were caring for being able to access different types of care, including emergency care, care from their regular doctor, mental health care, palliative care, and access to medications and medical tests.

How can CCS help?

If you’re in need of support with a cancer-related concern, CCS is here for you.

You can call CCS’s information helpline at 1-888-939-3333, or visit cancer.ca and use our live chat function to speak with a cancer information specialist.

Our online community, cancerconnection.ca is also available for anyone affected by cancer who would like to share their experiences and build supportive relationships.

And if you need trusted online health information to help better manage life with cancer or answer questions about the pandemic’s impact on cancer care, then please visit cancer.ca/COVID19.