08 Jun Cancer Patients and Oncologists Faced Exceptional Challenges During Pandemic
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Katherine Garcia MD
NYU Langone Health
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Studies on cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic have shown a decrease in new diagnoses, delays in care, and a shift to later stage disease presentations. Considering that NY has been an epicenter for COVID-19 in the U.S., we investigated its impact on new cancer diagnoses at the two campuses of NYU’s Perlmutter Cancer Center and hypothesized that there would be a decrease in presentations during the peak outbreaks in NY.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
- We conducted a single center, retrospective analysis of new cancer diagnoses before, during, and after the peak of the pandemic between Dec 1, 2019, and Aug 31, 2020.
- During the initial COVID-19 peak, there was a substantial decrease in new patient visits with statistically significant differences seen by age and certain cancer types including breast, skin, and hematologic malignancies.
- In all cancers, there was a decrease in the proportion of new patient visits among those over age 75 during the peak. When confining analyses to breast, skin, and hematologic cancers, we saw a significant increase in the proportion of younger new patients at the peak period.
- We also observed an association between age and stage, with an increase in new stage I diagnoses in the younger (age 18-54) population at peak.
- Telemedicine was most utilized by the younger population during both peak and recovery periods.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: In this retrospective analysis, we found that during the initial COVID-19 peak, prior to vaccine availability, outpatient visits for hematologic and solid malignancies decreased at our cancer center in NY. The decrease in the proportion of all cancer types in elderly patients during the peak was likely related to hesitancy among this vulnerable population to seek care. The widespread use of telemedicine also likely contributed to the increased incidence in new patient visits in younger patients.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has blanketed the health care system. For Medical Oncologists, there have been exceptional challenges to overcome. Lessons learned from this experience can help guide outreach to vulnerable populations during future outbreaks, particularly by fostering telemedicine use among the elderly.
I have no relevant conflicts of interest.
ASCO 2022 abstract:
Consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on new cancer visits to a comprehensive cancer center in New York.
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