BACKGROUND: Women undergoing treatment for breast cancer require frequent clinic visits for maintenance of therapy. With COVID-19 causing health care disruptions, it is important to learn about how this population's access to health care has changed. This study compares self-reported health care utilization and changes in factors related to health care access among women treated at a cancer center in the mid-South US before and during the pandemic. METHODS: Participants (N = 306) part of a longitudinal study to improve adjuvant endocrine therapy (AET) adherence completed pre-intervention baseline surveys about their health care utilization prior to AET initiation. Questions about the impact of COVID-19 were added after the pandemic started assessing financial loss and factors related to care. Participants were categorized into three time periods based on the survey completion date: (1) pre-COVID (December 2018 to March 2020), (2) early COVID (April 2020 - December 2020), and later COVID (January 2021 to June 2021). Negative binomial regression analyses used to compare health care utilization at different phases of the pandemic controlling for patient characteristics. RESULTS: Adjusted analyses indicated office visits declined from pre-COVID, with an adjusted average of 17.7 visits, to 12.1 visits during the early COVID period (p = 0.01) and 9.9 visits during the later COVID period (p < 0.01). Hospitalizations declined from an adjusted average 0.45 admissions during early COVID to 0.21 during later COVID, after vaccines became available (p = 0.05). Among COVID period participants, the proportion reporting changes/gaps in health insurance coverage increased from 9.5% participants during early-COVID to 14.8% in the later-COVID period (p = 0.05). The proportion reporting financial loss due to the pandemic was similar during both COVID periods (34.3% early- and 37.7% later-COVID, p = 0.72). The proportion of participants reporting delaying care or refilling prescriptions decreased from 15.2% in early-COVID to 4.9% in the later-COVID period (p = 0.04). CONCLUSION: COVID-19 caused disruptions to routine health care for women with breast cancer. Patients reported having fewer office visits at the start of the pandemic that continued to decrease even after vaccines were available. Fewer patients reported delaying in-person care as the pandemic progressed.
Subject(s)Breast Neoplasms , COVID-19 , Humans , Female , COVID-19/epidemiology , Pandemics , Breast Neoplasms/therapy , Longitudinal Studies , beta-Aminoethyl Isothiourea , Patient Acceptance of Health Care , Health Services Accessibility , Ambulatory Care Facilities
BACKGROUND: Breast cancer (BC) is the leading cause of death worldwide. The severity of BC strictly depends on the molecular subtype. The less aggressive hormone-positive subtype is treated with adjuvant endocrine therapy (AET), which causes both physical and psychological side effects. This condition strongly impacts the adherence and persistence of AET among oncologic patients. Moreover, viral infections also constitute a serious problem for public health. Despite their efficacy, antiviral agents present several therapeutic limits. Accordingly, in the present work, we investigated the antitumor and antiviral activities of Orobanche crenata Forssk. (O. crenata), a parasitic plant, endemic to the Mediterranean basin, traditionally known for its beneficial properties for human health. METHODS: The MTT assay was carried out to evaluate the cytotoxic effect of O. crenata leaf extract (OCLE) on human breast cancer cells (MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231) and the primary HFF-1 cell line. The lactic dehydrogenase (LDH) assay was performed on MCF-7 cells to analyze necrotic cell death. The antioxidant effect of OCLE was evaluated by intracellular determination of the reactive oxygen species and thiol groups, by DPPH and ABTS assays. The antiviral activity of OCLE was determined against Poliovirus 1, Echovirus 9, Human respiratory syncytial virus, Adenovirus type 2 and type 5, Coxsackievirus B1 (CoxB1) and B3 (CoxB3), Herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2), and ß-Coronavirus by the plaque reduction assay. RESULTS: The extract, after 24 h of incubation, did not affect MDA-MB-231 and HFF-1 cell viability. However, at the same time point, it showed a dose-dependent inhibitory effect on MCF-7 cells, with an increase in LDH release. OCLE exhibited free radical scavenging activity and significantly increased non-protein thiol levels in MCF-7 cells. OCLE effectively inhibited HSV-1, HSV-2, CoxB1, and CoxB3 replication. CONCLUSIONS: The overall results showed an interesting inhibitory effect of OCLE on both MCF-7 cell survival and viral replication.