Special Issue: Call for papers on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer prevention, control, care and survivorship

eLife is pleased to announce a new Special Issue, curating timely research in this important area of public health.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an adverse impact on multiple public health fronts. Proper cancer prevention, control, care and post-cancer survivorship rely on the critical importance of early diagnosis, timeless onset of treatment and surveillance for recurrence. These processes were affected by interruptions or delays, caused by the pandemic, in the delivery of preventive interventions, such as vaccinations, tobacco control and cancer screening. Cancer patients are also more vulnerable to the clinical impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection and thus have a higher risk of mortality from the joint effects of the infection and of the underlying neoplastic disease. Proper understanding of the impact of the pandemic on cancer incidence and mortality will help us plan interventions and prioritise care to mitigate or prevent the increases in cancer burden that may happen in the intermediate future.

We would like to curate in eLife the most useful empirical and model-based research, as well as unbiased reviews that will form the knowledge base for appropriate public health action to counter the effects of the pandemic on cancer outcomes. We are therefore pleased to announce a new Special Issue that will serve as a repository of the very best research on this major public health problem. We welcome submissions of innovative, insightful and robust research of the following types:

  • Large clinical studies of cancer outcomes in patients affected by SARS-CoV-2 with appropriate concurrent or historical controls
  • Studies of the changes in cancer screenings post-pandemic and resumption to historical levels, and how the screening methodologies have moved to home-based self-screening when possible
  • Studies of the disruptions in diagnostic work-up for abnormal screens
  • Studies of the impact on stage distributions post-delays in diagnosis
  • Studies of racial, ethnic, and gender disparities on how the pandemic affected access to the entire trajectory of cancer control and care
  • Studies of the impact of the pandemic on the prevalence of risk factors and on primary prevention activities, such as smoking and alcohol control, obesity reduction, HPV/HBV vaccinations, and behaviour modification strategies
  • Studies on effects of COVID-19 and its isolation on cancer survivors
  • Mathematical models of the predicted impact of the pandemic on any aspects of cancer control
  • Revised professional guidelines (screening, treatment or management) to respond to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer
  • Meta-research of the types of studies listed above
  • Mechanistic studies and reviews on the biology underlying SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination and how it would influence cancer treatment and therapy response

Submissions of Research Articles, Short Reports, Tools and Resources, and Research Advances are welcomed to the Special Issue at this time. Details about eLife's article types are here. All manuscript submissions will be initially assessed for importance and translational value before being sent out for external peer review. More details about eLife’s unique peer-review process are available here.

Diane Harper and Eduardo Franco

Deputy Editor for Medicine, Diane Harper, University of Michigan, and Senior Editor Eduardo Franco, McGill University, will oversee the editorial trajectory for manuscripts submitted for this Special Issue. They will work with eLife’s Reviewing Editors and a set of Guest Editors with expertise in medicine, global health, cancer, infectious diseases and mathematical modelling, as well as with eLife’s extensive roster of expert reviewers.

eLife Reviewing Editors:

  • Wadih Arap, Rutgers Cancer Institute
  • Nyasha Chambwe, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
  • Talía Malagón, McGill University
  • Isabel Rodriguez-Barraquer, University of California, San Francisco
  • ​​Nicolas Schlecht, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Wilbert Zwart, Netherlands Cancer Institute

And Guest Editors:

  • Johannes Berkhof, Amsterdam UMC
  • Hedyeh Ebrahimi, Tehran University of Medical Sciences
  • Rafael Meza, University of Michigan
  • Electra Paskett, Ohio State University

eLife is an interdisciplinary journal where active researchers handle all editorial decisions. We don’t artificially limit the number of articles we publish or have a set acceptance rate. Rather, we rely on the judgment of the working researchers who serve as our editors to select papers for peer review and publication. Our goal is to make peer review faster (by reducing rounds of revisions), fairer and more open.

Editors and reviewers discuss their reviews with each other before reaching a decision on a manuscript; extra experiments, analyses, or data collection are only requested if they are essential and can be reasonably completed within about two months (please also see ‘Publishing in the time of COVID-19’).

To make their results freely and immediately available to the widest possible audience, we ask authors submitting to eLife to also upload their manuscript to a preprint server such as bioRxiv or medRxiv. Our goal is to exclusively review papers that have been posted as a preprint, and authors will be asked to post a preprint if their paper is encouraged for in-depth peer review.

Authors interested in being part of this Special Issue can submit their manuscripts via eLife’s submission system, highlighting in the cover letter that the paper is for consideration in this collection and suggesting editors from the list above.

Papers will be published online when they’re ready and will continue to be considered for the Special Issue until December 21, 2022.

(Please note: following feedback from our community, and due to the impact of COVID-19 itself we have extended this deadline.)

Online symposium

We will invite authors of papers submitted to this Special Issue and accepted for publication to present their work in a symposium. This event will take place online and will mark the launch of the collection.

We’ll liaise with the authors directly to determine the best way of capturing their talk for livestreaming during the symposium.

We are also open to liaising with institutions interested in organising local events to include the talk of the local author, as well as the screening of the remaining presentations included in the eLife Symposium.


We welcome comments or questions from researchers as well as other journals. Please annotate publicly on the article or contact us at hello [at] elifesciences [dot] org.

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