New app calculates risk of delaying cancer care during pandemic

By | June 3, 2020
(a doctor holding a cell phone)
(Image curtesy of iStock)

A new app, OncCOVID, has been developed by data scientists and cancer doctors from the U-M Rogel Cancer Center and the U-M School of Public Health

The free app compares the long-term risks of delaying care for cancer patients to the additional risk of potential COVID-19 infection if they undergo surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation immediately. 

With healthcare systems overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors have had to postpone surgeries and treatment for cancer patients and it has been difficult for them to identify patients whose risks for COVID-19 outweigh the benefits of immediate treatment. In response, OncCOVID is designed to help doctors do just that. 

OncCOVID works by drawing on large, national cancer datasets to evaluate patients’ risks. Doctors can enter more than 45 characteristics about a patient — such as age, cancer type and stage, underlying medical conditions, and proposed delay in care. Depending on these characteristics and COVID-19’s impact on the patient’s local community, the app calculates their likely five or 10 year survival following immediate or delayed treatments. 

The researchers caution that OncCOVID is not intended to provide medical advice to patients, as care providers may have additional factors to consider when recommending treatment plans.