Nogueira on the Impacts of Climate Change on Cancer Care


Leticia Nogueira, PhD, MPH, discusses the vulnerabilities and hazards that patients with cancer experience due to climate change.

Climate change presents several hazards to patients with cancer, including disruptions in access to care and higher risk of infection. In an interview with Targeted OncologyTM, Leticia Nogueira, PhD, MPH, scientific director of health services research in the Surveillance & Health Equity Science department at the American Cancer Society, discusses the vulnerabilities in this patient community.


The most direct impact and there is on how climate change alters the behavior of extreme weather events. So I worked on the response to Hurricane Harvey, for example, and I was able to see firsthand pi storm that behaves completely different than what we expect can have a much larger impact on our community climate driven extreme weather events such as Harvey can impact cancer is through this European Z axis you cancer care. So one of our very first studies looked at how lung cancer patients whose facility as well as impacted by a hurricane during their treatment had worse overall survival than patients who did get treated at the same facilities but at a different time. So there are a couple of analysis the first one is recognizing that once you have been diagnosed with cancer, there are several physical, psychological, social economic consequences that come with a cancer diagnosis and treatment. And these can make people who have been diagnosed with cancer more vulnerable to climate hazards. So in another study, we show how cancer patients who are recovering from lungs cancer surgery actually had worse overall survival if there was a wildfire near their houses, right because in addition to the wildfire smoke, so of course not good if you're trying to recover from lung cancer surgery, there's also the issue of stress and you potentially have to evacuate there's water and soil contamination. So some chemotherapy drugs, for example, can also make our terminal regulatory system how we control our body temperature harder to for us to control so conservatives can be more vulnerable to heat waves. Another side effect of cancer treatment is a weakened immune system which may make people more vulnerable to infections that happen a lot whether it's flooding so there's all of these vulnerabilities that come with a cancer diagnosis that make people even more vulnerable to climate hazards.

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