Special Considerations for Elderly Patients with Head and Neck Cancer during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Elderly head and neck cancer patients are at increased risk of adverse outcomes during and after treatment of head and neck cancer. COVID-19 severity and mortality can be expected to be significantly greater in elderly head and neck cancer patients, given that increased age, comorbidities, and presence of malignancy are known risk factors for disease severity and mortality in COVID-19 patients. Therefore, their management requires multidisciplinary consensus and patient input. A thorough geriatric assessment, which has been shown to be beneficial prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, could be particularly helpful in this patient population with the added dimension of COVID-19 risk. In many cases, prudent treatment plan modification may allow for overall best outcomes. Furthermore, recruitment of social services and, when appropriate, palliative care, may allow for optimal management of these patients.