Cancer, COVID-19, and the need for critique

Cinzia Greco, Ignacia Arteaga, Clara Fabian-Therond, Henry Llewellyn, Julia Swallow, William Viney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this open letter we examine the implications of the coronavirus
disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic for cancer research and care from
the point of view of the social studies of science, technology, and
medicine. We discuss how the pandemic has disrupted several aspects
of cancer care, underscoring the fragmentation of institutional
arrangements, the malleable priorities in cancer research, and the
changing promises of therapeutic innovation. We argue for the critical
relevance of qualitative social sciences in cancer research during the
pandemic despite the difficulties of immersive kinds of fieldwork.
Social science research can help understand the ongoing, situated and
lived impact of the pandemic, as well as fully underline its socially
stratified consequences. We outline the risk that limiting and
prioritising research activities according to their immediate clinical
outcomes might have in the relational and longitudinal understanding
of cancer practices in the UK. Finally, we alert against potential
distortions that a “covidization” of cancer research might entail,
arguing for the need to maintain a critical point of view on the
Original languageEnglish
Article number280
JournalWellcome Open Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2020

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