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JAMA Netw Open ; 5(4): e228855, 2022 04 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1801991


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 4 476 693 cancer care services, compared with 5 644 105 services in the year prior, a difference of 20.7% fewer services of cancer care, representing a potential backlog of 1 167 412 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% (-1 016 181 screening tests), cancer treatment surgical procedures by 14.1% (-8020 procedures), and radiation treatment visits by 21.0% (-141 629 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.

COVID-19 , Influenza, Human , Neoplasms , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , Child , Cohort Studies , Humans , Influenza, Human/prevention & control , Neoplasms/epidemiology , Neoplasms/therapy , Ontario/epidemiology , Pandemics
BMJ Open Gastroenterol ; 9(1)2022 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1630258


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.

COVID-19 , Colorectal Neoplasms , Colorectal Neoplasms/diagnosis , Colorectal Neoplasms/epidemiology , Early Detection of Cancer , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
Prev Med ; 151: 106586, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1294323


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.

COVID-19 , Lung Neoplasms , Uterine Cervical Neoplasms , Aftercare , Delayed Diagnosis , Early Detection of Cancer , Female , Humans , Ontario , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2