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ESMO Open ; 6(3): 100157, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1213223


BACKGROUND: Studies evaluating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on public healthcare systems are limited, particularly in cancer management. As no such studies have been carried out in Spain, our objective is to describe and quantify the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer patients in Spanish hospitals during the first wave of the pandemic. MATERIALS AND METHODS: This retrospective, multicenter, nationwide study collected information from hospital departments treating oncology patients. An electronic questionnaire comparing outcomes and management of oncohematological patients for the March-June 2019 and March-June 2020 periods was used. RESULTS: Information from 78 departments (36 tertiary hospitals) was analyzed. Forty-four departments implemented adapted protocols during March 2020. Most of these (n = 38/44; 86.4%) carried out COVID-19 triage, while 26 of 44 (59.1%) carried out onsite polymerase chain reaction tests for clinically suspected cases. A shift from in-person to telephone visits was observed in 43 of 44 (97.7%) departments. Comparing the March-June 2019 and March-June 2020 periods, the number of new patients decreased by 20.8% (from 160.2 to 126.4). Decreases were also seen in the mean number of total (2858.2 versus 1686.1) and cancer (465.5 versus 367.2) biopsies, as well as the mean number of bone marrow biopsies (30.5 versus 18.6). Concerning the number of patients visiting specific cancer care departments, a decrease from 2019 to 2020 was seen for mean number of chemotherapy treatments (712.7 versus 643.8) and radiation therapy (2169.9 versus 2139.9). Finally, a reduction from 2019 to 2020 of 12.9% (from 8.6 to 7.4) in the mean number of patients included in clinical trials was noted. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides the first comprehensive data concerning the impact of COVID-19 on cancer care in Spain. The pandemic caused a 20.8% decrease in newly diagnosed patients, which may impact future outcomes. Measures must be taken to ensure cancer management receives priority in times of healthcare emergencies.

COVID-19 , Neoplasms , Humans , Pandemics , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Spain