Cancer Surgeries and Organ Transplants Are Being Put Off for Coronavirus. Can They Wait?

April 6, 2020

(ProPublica) – Elective surgery is, by definition, any surgery that is scheduled. That means cancer surgery, organ transplants and other lifesaving procedures, all of which are now put on hold — in some cases indefinitely. Since making its initial recommendation, the American College of Surgeons has been issuing increasingly urgent bulletins, with its March 24 missive detailing triage guidelines for cancer, cardiac and pediatric surgeries. It now finds itself in the grim position of recommending that removal of cancerous colon polyps be deferred for three months and breast cancer surgery be delayed if the disease responds to hormone therapy. In hospitals with heavy COVID-19 caseloads — those with no spare ventilators or ICU capacity — it urges that all surgical procedures be avoided unless the patient is likely to die within the next few hours or days.