(HealthDay News) — There has been a decrease in cancer-related encounters and in cancer screening since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published online in JCO: Clinical Cancer Informatics.

Jack W. London, PhD, from the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, and colleagues used the TriNetX platform to analyze data from 20 health care institutions to examine the impact of COVID-19 on cancer diagnosis and treatment encounters. Pre-COVID-19 (January 2019 to April 2019) and current (January 2020 to April 2020) cancer cohorts were compared.

The researchers identified clear trends suggesting a significant decrease in all current cohorts explored, with the largest decrease in the number of patients with cancer having encounters for April 2020. Smaller decreases in size were seen in April 2020 versus 2019 for lung, colorectal, and hematologic cancer cohorts (−39.1, −39.9, −39.1%, respectively) compared with breast cancer, prostate cancer, and melanoma (−47.7, −49.1, and −51.8%, respectively). There was a drastic decline observed in cancer screenings, with breast and colorectal cancer screenings decreasing by −89.1 and −84.5%, respectively.

“Ultimately, these observed trends have serious implications for future cancer care and validate the need to study and monitor the effect of COVID-19 mitigation on cancer diagnosis and treatment moving forward,” the authors write.


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One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry; several authors disclosed ties to TriNetX.

Reference

London JW, Fazio-Eynullayeva E, Palchuk MB, et al. Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Cancer-Related Patient Encounters. JCO Clin Canc Inform.