COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Cancer Patients and Survivors Survey: Findings Summary By The American Cancer Society


The COVID-19 pandemic and responses to help prevent its spread have had far-reaching impact on all Americans, and particularly on cancer patients and survivors. Risk of infection, overloaded health care systems, shortages of food and supplies, and economic challenges all create unique barriers to achieving and maintaining health while fighting cancer and after.

To better understand the impact of COVID-19 on the vulnerable population of US cancer patients and survivors, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) initiated a survey on March 25, 2020. The survey was deployed across a two week period to the 3,055 cancer patients and survivors participating in the Survivor Views initiative, and was also shared through ACS CAN social media and email channels to recruit additional respondents.

The survey focused on respondents’ experiences accessing health care as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including availability of appointments and services, ability to pay for care, and concerns about being able to safely obtain needed health care treatments and services in the future. The web- based survey was taken by more than 1,200 cancer patients and survivors. This sample provides a margin of error +/- 3% and 96% confidence level.

The research provides important insights into the experiences of cancer patients and survivors in safely accessing and affording health care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Findings:

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Fifty percent of cancer patients and survivors reported some impact to their health care due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty-seven percent of patients who are currently in active treatment report a delay to their treatment, and more than 1 in 8 (13%) of those in active treatment have had care delayed without knowledge of when it will be rescheduled.
  • The economic impact of the pandemic is affecting many cancer patients and survivors, with 38% of respondents reporting a notable impact on their financial situation that affects their ability to pay for care. Nearly half of cancer patients and survivors whose annual household income is $30,000 or less are worried that the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will make it hard for them to afford the care they need.
  • A third of cancer patients and survivors are worried about the impact of COVID-19 on their ability to get treatment for their cancer, a concern that is particularly acute for those currently in active treatment (40% of whom express worry).

Access the full findings summary