Travelling With Cancer: A Guide for Oncologists in the Modern World

August 2, 2019

Our specialist Oncologist Dr Sharon Heng talks about travelling with cancer.

Travel for patients with cancer has become more achievable because of gains in quality of life and overall survival. The risk assessment of these patients is complex, and there is a paucity of data to which clinicians can refer. We present the challenges of traveling with cancer and a review of the literature.

A review using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines was performed. A search using the terms ”cancer,” “advanced cancer,” ”metastases,” “brain edema,” “lymphoedema,” “pneumothorax,” ”pleural effusion,” “pericardial effusion,” pneumonitis,” “hypoxia,” “end-of-life,” and “shunt,” combined with “flying” and “air travel,” was conducted. The PubMed and Cochrane databases were searched for English-language studies up to December 2018. Studies, case reports, or guidelines referring to travel in the context of adult patients with malignancies were included. A total of 745 published articles were identified; 16 studies were included. An inclusive approach to data extraction was used.

There were no specific criteria to deem a patient with cancer fit to travel. Neurologic, respiratory, and cardiac implications, and time from recent surgery or procedure need to be considered There was a lack of high-quality studies to inform decisions, but the British Thoracic Society and Aerospace Medical Association Medical Guidelines included recommendations for fitness to fly for patients with cancer.

In the absence of large prospective studies, individual fitness to travel should be assessed on a case-by-case basis, bearing in mind that maximizing a patient’s ability to safely travel is an important goal for many individuals with cancer.

To read the article in full, please visit https://ascopubs.org/doi/full/10.1200/JGO.19.00029

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