Birmingham Chemotherapy Cancer COVID-19 Project

Birmingham and the Midlands are areas of the United Kingdom that are heavily affected with high coronavirus cases. At the time of this study launch, community transmission was high.

The NHS Trusts in the Midlands, under the leadership of University Hospitals Birmingham joined resources to develop a new approach to maintain safe cancer care. This involved offering free coronavirus PCR tests to every patient coming to the chemotherapy unit, every 2-3 weeks. This innovation was pioneered when access to PCR was limited and prior to the advent of mass population testing.

The project concluded that coronavirus infections “can be identified early(through testing) and that screening enables the confidence to safely deliver effective cancer care in the era of COVID-19”.

This programme analyzed 1,988 tests in 1,226 patients from April 3, 2020, to June 22, 2020.

All major national and international cancer guidelines now advise the screening of every patient undergoing chemotherapy to enable early identification and isolation of patients with asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections to prevent hospital transmission when community rates are high.

The project remains a testiment of how regional innovations arising from the Midlands can transform cancer care globally.

Start date:- April 2020

Delivery date:- June 2020

Cohort: Chemotherapy patients

Headline findings: “Screening cancer patients for coronavirus prior to chemotherapy is an effective strategy to keep cancer units coronavirus free” 

Impact: “Increase in screening for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. This now forms the standard first line protective measure for UK chemotherapy centres”