Smoking cessation after a cancer diagnosis can significantly improve a person's prognosis, treatment efficacy and safety, and quality of life. In 2012, Cancer Care Ontario (now part of Ontario Health) introduced a Framework for Smoking Cessation, to be implemented for new ambulatory cancer patients at the province's 14 Regional Cancer Centres (RCCs). Over time, the program has evolved to become more efficient, use data for robust performance management, and broaden its focus to include new patient populations and additional data collection. In 2017, the framework was revised from a 5As to a 3As brief intervention model, along with an opt-out approach to referrals. The revised model was based on emerging evidence, feedback from stakeholders, and an interim program evaluation. Results showed an initial increase in referrals to cessation services. Two indicators (tobacco use screening and acceptance of a referral) are routinely monitored as part of Ontario Health's system-wide performance management approach, which has been identified as a key driver of change among RCCs. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many RCCs reported a decrease in these indicators. RCCs that were able to maintain a high level of smoking cessation activities during the pandemic offer valuable lessons, including the opportunity to swiftly leverage virtual care. Future directions for the program include capturing data on cessation outcomes and expanding the intervention to new populations. A focus on system recovery from COVID-19 will be paramount. Smoking cessation must remain a core element of high-quality cancer care, so that patients achieve the best possible health benefits from their treatments.
Subject(s)COVID-19 , Neoplasms, Second Primary , Neoplasms , Smoking Cessation , Humans , Neoplasms/epidemiology , Neoplasms/therapy , Ontario , Pandemics , Quality of Life , Smoking Cessation/methods
Importance: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted cancer systems worldwide. Quantifying the changes is critical to informing the delivery of care while the pandemic continues, as well as for system recovery and future pandemic planning. Objective: To quantify change in the delivery of cancer services across the continuum of care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Design, Setting, and Participants: This population-based cohort study assessed cancer screening, imaging, diagnostic, treatment, and psychosocial oncological care services delivered in pediatric and adult populations in Ontario, Canada (population 14.7 million), from April 1, 2019, to March 1, 2021. Data were analyzed from May 1 to July 31, 2021. Exposures: COVID-19 pandemic. Main Outcomes and Measures: Cancer service volumes from the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, defined as April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, were compared with volumes during a prepandemic period of April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020. Results: During the first year of the pandemic, there were a total of 4â¯476â¯693 cancer care services, compared with 5â¯644â¯105 services in the year prior, a difference of 20.7% fewer services of cancer care, representing a potential backlog of 1â¯167â¯412 cancer services. While there were less pronounced changes in systemic treatments, emergency and urgent imaging examinations (eg, 1.9% more parenteral systemic treatments) and surgical procedures (eg, 65% more urgent surgical procedures), major reductions were observed for most services beginning in March 2020. Compared with the year prior, during the first pandemic year, cancer screenings were reduced by 42.4% (-1â¯016â¯181 screening tests), cancer treatment surgical procedures by 14.1% (-8020 procedures), and radiation treatment visits by 21.0% (-141â¯629 visits). Biopsies to confirm cancer decreased by up to 41.2% and surgical cancer resections by up to 27.8% during the first pandemic wave. New consultation volumes also decreased, such as for systemic treatment (-8.2%) and radiation treatment (-9.3%). The use of virtual cancer care increased for systemic treatment and radiation treatment and psychosocial oncological care visits, increasing from 0% to 20% of total new or follow-up visits prior to the pandemic up to 78% of total visits in the first pandemic year. Conclusions and Relevance: In this population-based cohort study in Ontario, Canada, large reductions in cancer service volumes were observed. While most services recovered to prepandemic levels at the end of the first pandemic year, a substantial care deficit likely accrued. The anticipated downstream morbidity and mortality associated with this deficit underscore the urgent need to address the backlog and recover cancer care and warrant further study.
Subject(s)COVID-19 , Influenza, Human , Neoplasms , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , Child , Cohort Studies , Humans , Influenza, Human/prevention & control , Neoplasms/epidemiology , Neoplasms/therapy , Ontario/epidemiology , Pandemics
OBJECTIVE: To describe a conceptual framework that provides understanding of the challenges encountered and the adaptive approaches taken by organised colorectal cancer (CRC) screening programmes during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. DESIGN: This was a qualitative case study of international CRC screening programmes. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with programme managers/leaders and programme experts, researchers and clinical leaders of large, population-based screening programmes. Data analysis, using elements of grounded theory, as well as cross-cases analysis was conducted by two experienced qualitative researchers. RESULTS: 19 participants were interviewed from seven programmes in North America, Europe and Australasia. A conceptual framework ('Nimble Approach') was the key outcome of the analysis. Four concepts constitute this approach to managing CRC screening programmes during COVID-19: Fast (meeting the need to make decisions and communicate quickly), Adapting (flexibly and creatively managing testing/colonoscopy capacity, access and backlogs), Calculating (modelling and actively monitoring programmes to inform decision-making and support programme quality) and Ethically Mindful (considering ethical conundrums emerging from programme responses). Highly integrated programmes, those with highly integrated communication networks, and that managed greater portions of the screening process seemed best positioned to respond to the crisis. CONCLUSIONS: The Nimble Approach has potentially broad applications; it can be deployed to effectively respond to programme-specific challenges or manage CRC programmes during future pandemics, other health crises or emergencies.
Subject(s)COVID-19 , Colorectal Neoplasms , Colorectal Neoplasms/diagnosis , Colorectal Neoplasms/epidemiology , Early Detection of Cancer , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
BACKGROUND: Breast cancer screening in Ontario, Canada, was deferred during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a prioritization framework to resume services according to breast cancer risk was developed. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of the pandemic within the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) by comparing total volumes of screening mammographic examinations and volumes of screening mammographic examinations with abnormal results before and during the pandemic, and to assess backlogs on the basis of adherence to the prioritization framework. METHODS: A descriptive study was conducted among women aged 50 to 74 years at average risk and women aged 30 to 69 years at high risk, who participated in the OBSP. Percentage change was calculated by comparing observed monthly volumes of mammographic examinations from March 2020 to March 2021 with 2019 volumes and proportions by risk group. We plotted estimates of backlog volumes of mammographic examinations by risk group, comparing pandemic with prepandemic screening practices. Volumes of mammographic examinations with abnormal results were plotted by risk group. RESULTS: Volumes of mammographic examinations in the OBSP showed the largest declines in April and May 2020 (> 99% decrease) and returned to prepandemic levels as of March 2021, with an accumulated backlog of 340 876 examinations. As of March 2021, prioritization had reduced the backlog volumes of screens for participants at high risk for breast cancer by 96.5% (186 v. 5469 expected) and annual rescreens for participants at average risk for breast cancer by 13.5% (62 432 v. 72 202 expected); there was a minimal decline for initial screens. Conversely, the backlog increased by 7.6% for biennial rescreens (221 674 v. 206 079 expected). More than half (59.4%) of mammographic examinations with abnormal results were for participants in the higher risk groups. INTERPRETATION: Prioritizing screening for those at higher risk for breast cancer may increase diagnostic yield and redirect resources to minimize potential long-term harms caused by the pandemic. This further supports the clinical utility of risk-stratified cancer screening.
Subject(s)Breast Neoplasms/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , Early Detection of Cancer , Guideline Adherence/statistics & numerical data , Mammography , Aged , Early Detection of Cancer/methods , Early Detection of Cancer/standards , Early Detection of Cancer/statistics & numerical data , Female , Health Priorities/standards , Health Priorities/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Mammography/standards , Mammography/statistics & numerical data , Middle Aged , Ontario/epidemiology , Risk Factors
Screening can decrease the burden of breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers. The COVID-19 pandemic led many countries to suspend cancer screening services as part of their response to the pandemic. The International Cancer Screening Network (ICSN) carried out an online survey to assess the effects of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer screening. A 33-item survey was distributed to 834 email addresses to gather information about settings and assess decision-making processes that led to cancer screening suspension. Information about communication, impact on resources, and patient follow-up was collected. Quantitative data was analyzed as frequencies overall and by setting, while a comment section under each survey item captured nuanced details. Responses were recategorized into 66 settings, representing 35 countries. Most settings suspended cancer screening services (n = 60, 90.9%) in March 2020 (n = 45, 68.2%), guided by a government decision (n = 51, 77.3%). Few settings made the decision whether to suspend services based on a preparedness plan (n = 17, 25.8%). In most settings, professionals were reassigned (n = 41, 62.1%) and infrastructure repurposed (n = 35, 53.0%). The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has had profound effects on cancer screening worldwide, including the suspension of services in almost all settings. Most settings were unprepared to deal with the scale of the pandemic but demonstrated flexibility in the response. These results contribute to inform, through experiences and lessons learned, the next steps for the global cancer screening community to further evaluate the impact of COVID-19 and prepare for future disruptions.
Subject(s)COVID-19 , Neoplasms , Early Detection of Cancer , Humans , Neoplasms/diagnosis , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Surveys and Questionnaires
It is essential to quantify the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer screening, including for vulnerable sub-populations, to inform the development of evidence-based, targeted pandemic recovery strategies. We undertook a population-based retrospective observational study in Ontario, Canada to assess the impact of the pandemic on organized cancer screening and diagnostic services, and assess whether patterns of cancer screening service use and diagnostic delay differ across population sub-groups during the pandemic. Provincial health databases were used to identify age-eligible individuals who participated in one or more of Ontario's breast, cervical, colorectal, and lung cancer screening programs from January 1, 2019-December 31, 2020. Ontario's screening programs delivered 951,000 (-41%) fewer screening tests in 2020 than in 2019 and volumes for most programs remained more than 20% below historical levels by the end of 2020. A smaller percentage of cervical screening participants were older (50-59 and 60-69 years) during the pandemic when compared with 2019. Individuals in the oldest age groups and in lower-income neighborhoods were significantly more likely to experience diagnostic delay following an abnormal breast, cervical, or colorectal cancer screening test during the pandemic, and individuals with a high probability of living on a First Nation reserve were significantly more likely to experience diagnostic delay following an abnormal fecal test. Ongoing monitoring and management of backlogs must continue. Further evaluation is required to identify populations for whom access to cancer screening and diagnostic care has been disproportionately impacted and quantify impacts of these service disruptions on cancer incidence, stage, and mortality. This information is critical to pandemic recovery efforts that are aimed at achieving equitable and timely access to cancer screening-related care.
Subject(s)COVID-19 , Lung Neoplasms , Uterine Cervical Neoplasms , Aftercare , Delayed Diagnosis , Early Detection of Cancer , Female , Humans , Ontario , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
PURPOSE: To review the scientific literature seeking lessons for the COVID-19 era that could be learned from previous health services interruptions that affected the delivery of cancer screening services. METHODS: A systematic search was conducted up to April 17, 2020, with no restrictions on language or dates and resulted in 385 articles. Two researchers independently assessed the list and discussed any disagreements. Once a consensus was achieved for each paper, those selected were included in the review. RESULTS: Eleven articles were included. Three studies were based in Japan, two in the United States, one in South Korea, one in Denmark, and the remaining four offered a global perspective on interruptions in health services due to natural or human-caused disasters. No articles covered an interruption due to a pandemic. The main themes identified in the reviewed studies were coordination, communication, resource availability and patient follow-up. CONCLUSION: Lessons learned applied to the context of COVID-19 are that coordination involving partners across the health sector is essential to optimize resources and resume services, making them more resilient while preparing for future interruptions. Communication with the general population about how COVID-19 has affected cancer screening, measures taken to mitigate it and safely re-establish screening services is recommended. Use of mobile health systems to reach patients who are not accessing services and the application of resource-stratified guidelines are important considerations. More research is needed to explore best strategies for suspending, resuming and sustaining cancer screening programs, and preparedness for future disruptions, adapted to diverse health care systems.