COVID-19 The Lancet.
Friday, May 29, 2020

A new study published in the Lancet has revealed that developing a Covid-19 infection just before or after having surgery can have a major impact on survival – around half of patients with confirmed Covid-19 suffered lung complications after surgery and sadly, 38% of these people died.

Sarcoma UK are co-funding this important initiative, which will help clinicians and patients to make informed decisions about surgery during the pandemic.

CovidSurg is a collaborative global cohort study which seeks to look at the outcomes of surgery in patients who develop Covid-19. This is especially important for sarcoma patients where surgery is often the main treatment available and there are few alternative options.

In this new publication, the team examined a dataset of 1,000 patients undergoing surgery from January to March this year across 24 countries. From this group, they pulled out patients who had coronavirus within 7 days before, or 30 days after, their operation. Around half of these people suffered lung complications after surgery, and of these people, very sadly 38% died as a result.

The CovidSurg team conclude that thresholds for surgery during the pandemic should be raised compared to normal practice, meaning that for some people, non-urgent surgery should be postponed or another treatment given instead. This is particularly important for men aged 70 years and over.

Dr Sorrel Bickley, Director of Research and Policy at Sarcoma UK said:

'This news will be especially concerning for sarcoma patients, who have very few treatments available beyond surgery. It is hugely important that cancer care adapts rapidly to the new risks that COVID-19 brings, and gathering data is a critical part of that. The CovidSurg initiative is helping to make sure that people with sarcoma get the best and safest treatment available for them both during the pandemic and beyond, and Sarcoma UK are proud to be co-funding this work.'

The CovidSurg initiative is led by scientists at the University of Birmingham in the UK, and the cohort continues to grow. The team have now captured data from over 20,000 patients from across 707 hospitals in 72 countries.

If you have any concerns about your treatment, read our Covid-19 updates or contact the Sarcoma UK Support Line