What is it about?
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted how healthcare works, such as cancer screening and diagnosis. People at higher risk of colorectal cancer, such as those with Lynch syndrome, are supposed to get their colon screened every 1-2 years. But during COVID-19 shutdowns many people had to delay their routine screening. The authors of this study wanted to find out, how exactly did the delay in cancer screening, affect those with Lynch syndrome? They looked at the cases of 302 people with Lynch syndrome at a common care center. Of these, 34 people had a screening planned when the lockdown was imposed. 27 patients had their screening cancelled; 3 of whom had crossed their surveillance window of two years. The authors found that 23 people postponed their screening for a later time. These people were screened within the first six months after the lockdown was lifted. Eight of them showed signs of intestinal tumors and lesions; three of these had advanced cancer. Younger people and men were less likely to reschedule their screening. This was mainly due to fear of COVID-19, monetary problems, and lack of awareness about rescheduling.
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
Why is it important?
Benign tumors in patients with Lynch syndrome are known to progress rapidly to cancer. Even a short delay in their screening can greatly increase their cancer risk. Hence, these patients should have their cancer screenings done at the earliest opportunity. In cases of cancellation, patients at a higher risk must be reminded and guided about rescheduling their screening. So, there is an overall need to strengthen diagnostic services for patients with Lynch syndrome during similar pandemics. KEY TAKEAWAY: This study shows that even during health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to continue timely screenings of patients at high risk of cancer.
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This page is a summary of: COVID-19 Disruptions to Endoscopic Surveillance in Lynch Syndrome, Cancer Prevention Research, February 2021, American Association for Cancer Research (AACR),
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