Musculoskeletal oncology: patient triage and management during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • N. Olshinka Maisonneuve Rosemont Hospital
  • S. Mottard Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital
Keywords: Sarcoma, Cancer, Orthopedic-oncology, Musculoskeletal tumor, COVID-19, Pandemic


Sarcoma treatment during the covid-19 pandemic is a new challenge. This patient population is often immunocom­promised and potentially more susceptible to viral complications.

   Government guidelines highlight the need to minimize patient exposure to unnecessary hospital visits. However, those guidelines lack practical recommendations on ways to manage triage and diagnosis expressly for new cancer patients. Furthermore, there are no reports on the efficiency of the guidelines.

   One of the main issues in treating musculoskeletal tumours is the complexity and variability of presentation. We offer a triage model, used in a quaternary-referral musculoskeletal oncology centre, that allows us to maintain an open pathway for referral of new patients while minimizing exposure risks. A multidisciplinary approach and analysis of existing investigations allow for a pre-clinic evaluation.

   The model identifies 3 groups of patients:

  • Patients with suspected high-grade malignancy, or benign cases with aggressive features, both in need of further evaluation in the clinic and prompt treatment
  • Patients with low-grade malignancy, and benign cases whose treatment is not urgent, that are managed, during the pandemic by telemedicine, with reassurance and information about their illness
  • Patients who can be managed by their local medical professionals

   In comparison to a pre-pandemic period, that approach resulted in a higher ratio of malignant-to-benign con­ditions for new patients seen in the clinic (3:4 vs. 1:3 respectively), thus using available resources more efficiently and prioritizing patients with suspected high-grade malignancy.

   We believe that this triage system could be applied in other surgical oncology fields during a pandemic.

Author Biographies

N. Olshinka, Maisonneuve Rosemont Hospital

Division of Orthopedic Surgery

S. Mottard, Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital

Division of Orthopedic Surgery

How to Cite
Olshinka, N., & Mottard, S. (2020). Musculoskeletal oncology: patient triage and management during the COVID-19 pandemic. Current Oncology, 27(5).
Short Communication