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Prev Med ; 151: 106606, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1294328


Screening is an important component of cancer control internationally. In Scotland, the National Health Service Scotland provides screening programmes for cervical, bowel and breast cancers. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the suspension of these programmes in March 2020. We describe the integrated approach to managing the impact of the pandemic on cancer screening programmes in Scotland throughout 2020. We outline the policy context and decision-making process leading to suspension, and the criteria and framework informing the subsequent, staggered, restart in subsequent months. The decision to suspend screening services in order to protect screening invitees and staff, and manage NHS capacity, was made after review of numbers of screening participants likely to be affected, and the potential number of delayed cancer diagnoses. Restart principles and a detailed route map plan were developed for each programme, seeking to ensure broad consistency of approach across the programmes and nationally. Early data indicates bowel, breast and cervical screening participation has increased since restart. Primary care has had to adapt to new infection prevention control measures for delivery of cervical screening. Cancer charities provided cancer intelligence and policy briefs to national bodies and Scottish Government, as well as supporting the public, patients and screening invitees through information and awareness campaigns. Emerging from the pandemic, there is recognition of the need and the opportunity to transform and renew both cancer and screening services in Scotland, and in particular to address long-standing workforce capacity problems through innovation and investment, and to continue to prioritise addressing health inequalities.

COVID-19 , Uterine Cervical Neoplasms , Early Detection of Cancer , Female , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Scotland , State Medicine , Uterine Cervical Neoplasms/diagnosis , Uterine Cervical Neoplasms/prevention & control
Colorectal Dis ; 23(7): 1639-1648, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1119227


AIM: The dramatic curtailment of endoscopy and CT colonography capacity during the coronavirus pandemic has adversely impacted timely diagnosis of colorectal cancer (CRC). We describe a rapidly implemented COVID-adapted diagnostic pathway to mitigate risk and maximize cancer diagnosis in patients referred with symptoms of suspected CRC. METHOD: The 'COVID-adapted pathway' integrated multiple quantitative faecal immunochemical tests (qFIT) to enrich for significant colorectal disease with judicious use of CT with oral contrast to detect gross pathology. Patients reporting 'high-risk' symptoms were triaged to qFIT+CT and the remainder underwent an initial qFIT to inform subsequent investigation. Demographic and clinical data were prospectively collected. Outcomes comprised cancer detection frequency. RESULTS: Overall, 422 patients (median age 64 years, 220 women) were triaged using this pathway. Most (84.6%) were referred as 'urgent suspicious of cancer'. Of the 422 patients, 202 (47.9%) were triaged to CT and qFIT, 211 (50.0%) to qFIT only, eight (1.9%) to outpatient clinic and one to colonoscopy. Fifteen (3.6%) declined investigation and seven (1.7%) were deemed unfit. We detected 13 cancers (3.1%), similar to the mean cancer detection rate from all referrals in 2017-2019 (3.3%). Compared with the period 1 April-31 May in 2017-2019, we observed a 43% reduction in all primary care referrals (1071 referrals expected reducing to 609). CONCLUSION: This COVID-adapted pathway mitigated the adverse effects on diagnostic capacity and detected cancer at the expected rate within those referred. However, the overall reduction in the number of referrals was substantial. The described risk-mitigating measures could be a useful adjunct whilst standard diagnostic services remain constrained due to the ongoing pandemic.

COVID-19 , Colorectal Neoplasms , Aged , Colonoscopy , Colorectal Neoplasms/diagnosis , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Occult Blood , SARS-CoV-2 , Triage