COVID-19 Pandemic Disrupted Clinical Trials for Cancer Treatment and Care 

June 15, 2022 by Alexa Hornbeck
COVID-19 Pandemic Disrupted Clinical Trials for Cancer Treatment and Care 
Elaine Deboe receives chemotherapy for a rare form of breast cancer, accompanied by her father, Roy Phillips, at Scripps Clinic Anderson Outpatient Pavilion in San Diego. (Eduardo Contreras/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)

report from the two largest cancer centers in the United States released on June 14 finds that the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted clinical trials for cancer treatment and care. 

Published in the Annals of Oncology, the multi-center study evaluated clinical trial activities at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Tisch Cancer Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, to assesses the impact of the pandemic on therapeutic clinical trials.

The trial was conducted between December 2019 and June 2021 and examined a cohort of 4,756 patients. 

The findings show a 46% decrease in new patient accruals, and a 24% decrease in newly activated trials between March 2020 and May 2020 when compared with the immediate pre-pandemic period.



Non-White patients were also more likely to be taken off trials in the early pandemic period compared with White patients. 

According to researchers in the study, the major decline likely reflects the strain imposed on the health care system during the pandemic as resources were diverted towards immediate hospital and patient needs. 


To better sustain clinical trial enrollment and safely adapt research practices during the pandemic, researchers find that telehealth, remote monitoring, and shipment of therapeutic agents will be critical to ensuring the advancement of clinical science for cancer research and allowing greater flexibility in the event of future disruptions. 

Alexa can be reached at [email protected]

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