The approach to cancer care during the COVID-19 pandemic needs to consider the increased risks to cancer patients of acquiring COVID-19 and associated serious illness or mortality, and the risks of delaying cancer diagnosis and treatment. Strategic health promotion for people affected by cancer, health professionals, and researchers is required to support optimal cancer care during the pandemic.
Cancer Australia established and promoted an online information hub about cancer and COVID-19 to facilitate access to information and advice for people affected by cancer, and Australian and international guidance and research articles for health professionals and researchers.
As part of a suite of awareness campaigns about cancer and COVID-19, Cancer Australia’s ‘Cancer Won’t Wait’ and ‘Act early for our Mob’s Health’ videos provide consumer-friendly information to encourage people to see their health professional or Aboriginal health worker with ‘red flag symptoms’ that may be cancer. ‘Cancer and COVID-19 – What it means for our Mob’ provides tailored information to support Indigenous Australians with cancer to stay safe during COVID-19. ‘Not every cough is COVID-19’ assists health professionals to identify and appropriately investigate patients with symptoms and signs that might be lung cancer. Videos for these four campaigns were shared across websites and social media platforms.
Between 13 March – 10 August 2020 the online information hub was viewed over 23,800 times, and the social media campaigns collectively received nearly 3.5 million impressions and 346,000 video views.
Access to quality health information can support optimal cancer care, and strategic health promotion can influence positive health behaviour change. Cancer Australia will continue to inform and support the cancer community, health professionals, and researchers during the ongoing pandemic through development and promotion of information and resources on cancer and COVID-19, including dedicated information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.