BACKGROUND: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has interfered with the treatment algorithm for patients with gastrointestinal (GIS) cancer, resulting in deferral of surgery . We presented the outcomes of our patients to evaluate whether surgery could be safely performed and followed-up without delaying any stage of GIS cancer during the pandemic .
METHODS: This was an observational study of 177 consecutive patients who underwent elective GIS cancer surgery between March 11 and November 1 , 2020 . They were assessed regarding their perioperative and 60 days follow-up results for either surgical or COVID-19 status . Morbidity was determined according to the Clavien-Dindo classification (CDC). Continuous and categorical data were presented as median ± SD and number with percentage (%), respectively .
RESULTS: The study included 44 gastric , 33 pancreatic , 40 colon, and 59 rectal cancer patients . All patients underwent surgery and received neo/adjuvant treatments without delay . The overall morbidity (CDC grade II-IV) and mortality rates were 10.1% and 3.9%, respectively . None of the patients or medical staff were infected with COVID-19 during the study period .
CONCLUSION: GIS cancer surgery can be safely performed even within a pandemic hospital if proper isolation measures can be achieved for both patients and health workers . Regardless of the tumor stage, surgery should not be deferred, depending on unstandardized algorithms.