April 13, 2020

ACR and other Medical Societies Release Recommendations for Breast Cancer Care in COVID-19 Pandemic

The American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBrS), the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), the Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons, and the American College of Radiology® (ACR®) have released new joint recommendations for prioritization, treatment and triage of breast cancer patients during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“As hospital resources and staff become limited, it is vital to define which breast cancer patients require urgent care and which can have delayed or alternative treatment without changing survival or risking exposure to the virus,” said Jill R. Dietz, MD, FACS, president of the ASBrS.

“The COVID-19 pandemic presents unprecedented challenges. These guidelines can help modify patient care to minimize exposure risk and preserve resources for patients with the most immediate need for care,” said Lawrence N. Shulman, MD, chair of the CoC.

The new recommendations categorize these patients into priority levels (A, B, C) for urgency of care across all specialties and provide treatment recommendations for each category.

  • Priority A patients have conditions that are immediately life-threatening or symptomatic, requiring urgent treatment
  • Priority B patients have conditions that do not require immediate treatment but should start treatment before the pandemic is over
  • Priority C patients have conditions for which treatment can be safely deferred until the pandemic is over

“Implementation of these recommendations, based on the highest level of available evidence, must be adapted to current resource availability and COVID-19 pandemic severity in that region,” said Scott H. Kurtzman, MD, FACS, chair of the NAPBC.

“The risk of disease progression and worse patient outcomes should be weighed against risk of patient and staff exposure to the virus,” said Debra Monticciolo, MD, FACR, president of the ACR.

“Doctors should use the recommendations to prioritize care for these patients and adapt treatment recommendations to the local context at their hospital,” said William J. Gradishar, MD, chair of the NCCN breast cancer panel.

Access the new joint breast cancer patient care recommendations here.


Note: These new recommendations are presented in an article entitled, “Recommendations for Prioritization, Treatment and Triage of Breast Cancer Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” recently accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, a peer-reviewed journal. The link to the open access document will be provided when it is released.

To speak with a representative, please contact:

Jane Schuster, American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBrS), at 410-707-4715 or jschuster@breastsurgeons.org.

Sally Garneski, National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) and the Commission on Cancer (CoC) at 312-202-5409, pressinquiry@facs.org.

Rachel Darwin, National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), at 267-622-6624 at darwin@nccn.org.

Shawn Farley or Meghan Swope, American College of Radiology (ACR), at 703-648-8936 or PR@acr.org.

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About the American Society of Breast Surgeons
The American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBrS), the primary leadership organization for general surgeons who treat patients with breast disease, is committed to continually improving the practice of breast surgery by serving as an advocate for surgeons who seek excellence in the care of breast patients. This mission is accomplished by providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and by promoting education, research, and the development of advanced surgical techniques.

About the National Accreditation Program of Breast Centers
Administered by the American College of Surgeons Cancer Programs, the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) is a consortium of national, professional organizations focused on breast health and dedicated to the improvement of quality outcomes of patients with diseases of the breast through evidence-based standards and patient and professional education. NAPBC accreditation is granted only to those centers that are voluntarily committed to providing the best possible care to patients with diseases of the breast.

About the National Comprehensive Cancer Network
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN) is a not-for-profit alliance of 30 leading cancer centers devoted to patient care, research, and education. NCCN is dedicated to improving and facilitating quality, effective, efficient, and accessible cancer care so patients can live better lives.

About the Commission on Cancer

Established in 1922 by the American College of Surgeons, the Commission on Cancer (CoC) is a consortium of professional organizations dedicated to improving patient outcomes and quality of life for cancer patients through standard-setting, prevention, research, education and the monitoring of comprehensive quality care. The CoC’s accreditation program encourages hospitals, treatment centers and other facilities to improve their quality of patient care through various cancer-related services. There are currently more than 1,500 CoC-accredited cancer programs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

About the American College of Radiology
The American College of Radiology (ACR) is a membership organization of nearly 40,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists and medical physicists dedicated to serving patients and society by empowering radiology professionals to advance the practice, science and professions of radiological care.

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