Decline in cancer-related services seen during pandemic

(HealthDay)—There was a 10.2 percent decline in pathology reports in population-based cancer registries from Georgia and Louisiana in 2020 compared with 2019, according to a study published online June 28 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Y. Robin Yabroff, Ph.D., from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues used real-time electronic pathology report data from population-based Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results cancer registries from Georgia and Louisiana to examine changes in patterns of cancer diagnosis and surgical treatment between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 in both 2020 and 2019.

The researchers found that compared with 2019, there were 29,905 fewer pathology reports during 2020, representing a 10.2 percent decline. All age groups, including children and adolescents less than 18 years, demonstrated declines. Early April 2020 was the nadir, with 42.8 percent fewer reports compared to April 2019. After the first declines, the numbers of reports through December 2020 never consistently exceeded those in 2019. Similar patterns were seen by age group and cancer site.

“We observed substantial declines in 2020 among cancers with effective screening tests, including breast and colorectal cancers, as well as across cancer sites and age groups without effective screening tests, including cancers among children and young adults,” Yabroff said in a statement. “Declines across cancer sites and age groups suggest that in addition to delays in cancer screening, there were also delays in routine well-child and primary care, evaluation of signs and symptoms, and treatment initiation for most cancers.”


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