Cancer Screening Tests and Cancer Diagnoses During the COVID-19 Pandemic | Cancer Screening, Prevention, Control | JAMA Oncology | JAMA Network
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    Research Letter
    January 14, 2021

    Cancer Screening Tests and Cancer Diagnoses During the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Author Affiliations
    • 1Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology, Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts
    • 2Division of Urological Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
    • 3Center for Surgery and Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
    • 4Department of Urology, Humanitas Clinical and Research Center IRCCS, Rozzano, Italy
    JAMA Oncol. 2021;7(3):458-460. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.7600

    Oncology patient care may be disrupted secondary to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) through delays in diagnostic investigations and surgical procedures, as well as delayed cancer diagnoses because of reduced cancer screening. This study assesses the number of patients undergoing cancer screening tests and of ensuing cancer diagnoses during the COVID-19 pandemic in the largest health care system in the northeastern United States, Massachusetts General Brigham.

    This study comprised four 3-month periods. One period, during the first peak of the pandemic in the New England area of the United States (from March 2 to June 2, 2020),1 was compared with 3 control periods before and after the main study period (the preceding 3 months from December 1, 2019, to March 2, 2020; the same 3 months in the preceding year from March 2 to June 2, 2019; and the 3 months after the main study period from June 3 to September 3, 2020). The percentage decrease in screening tests and in diagnoses during the pandemic period compared with each of the control periods was computed as percentage decrease = (Npandemic − Ncontrol)/Ncontrol. The 95% CIs were computed using the Clopper-Pearson method using the DescTools package in R. All analyses were performed using R, version 3.6.1 (R Foundation for Statistical Computing) (eMethods in the Supplement). Ethical approval for the study was provided by Brigham and Women’s Hospital prior to commencement of data analysis, including a waiver of the requirement for individual patient consent given the retrospective and noninterventional nature of the research.