More than a quarter of patients with prostate or bladder cancer experienced delays in care during 2020, the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, investigators reported at the American Urological Association’s 2022 annual meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Jacob Lang, MSc, of the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences, Ohio, and colleagues used the National Health Interview Survey 2020, which consists of a nationally representative sample of 31,568 adults, to provide national estimates of genitourinary cancer care.
Among a projected 1,720,245 patients with prostate cancer and 280,379 with bladder cancer, 83.7% and 16.3%, respectively, were represented in the study. Overall, 282,929 patients (16.5%) were supposed to be receiving cancer treatment during the pandemic and 298,116 (17.3%) required other care, including lab visits, imaging, monitoring visits, rehabilitation, physical therapy, care for side effects, or visits with medical specialists.
Of those due for cancer treatment, 76,984 (27.2%) patients reported their treatment was changed, delayed, or cancelled due to the pandemic, including a comparable proportion of those with prostate cancer (27.2%) and bladder cancer (27.5%), Lang reported. Of those needing other care, 73,189 (24.5%) reported a change, delay, or cancellation during the pandemic, with no significant difference between patients with prostate cancer (24.4%) and bladder cancer (26.0%).
“Access to care and surgery rates significantly decreased during the initial period of the pandemic, but the overall impact on care and survival has not yet been fully appreciated,” co-investigator Puneet Sindhwani, MD, chair of the Department of Urology and Transplantation at the University of Toledo Medical Center, said in an interview.
“Delays in bladder cancer treatment have previously been shown to increase mortality, thus necessitating further study of the long-term implications of delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic on outcomes. Patients who experience delays in urologic cancer care should be stringently followed per [National Comprehensive Cancer Network] or AUA guidelines based on current disease stage.”
Dr Sindhwani said their institution has seen a full rebound in urologic cancer care since the height of the pandemic.
“Further assessment of the impact of these delays, especially with regard to clinical disease state is necessary, however, both for adequate treatment of these patients and optimization of care should interruptions occur in the future.”
Lang J, Jambunathan S, Somasundaram E, et al. Patient-reported delays in treatment for urologic cancers during the Covid-19 pandemic: A national cross-sectional analysis. Presented at: AUA 2022; May 13-16, 2022, New Orleans, Louisiana. Abstract PD03-11.