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Care Delayed for Many U.S. Breast Cancer Patients Early in Pandemic

Younger patients experienced more delays; otherwise, no differences seen by race, insurance type

TUESDAY, Aug. 25, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Nearly half of breast cancer patients have experienced delays in care due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published online Aug. 9 in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.

Elizabeth Lerner Papautsky, Ph.D., and Tamara Hamlish, Ph.D., from the University of Illinois at Chicago, surveyed 609 U.S. adult breast cancer survivors to assess treatment delays in the early period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The researchers found that 44 percent of participants reported cancer care treatment delays during the pandemic across all aspects of cancer care and treatment. Routine follow-up visits were most commonly delayed (79 percent), followed by breast reconstruction surgery (66 percent), diagnostic imaging (60 percent), and lab testing (50 percent). However, just under one-third (30 percent) reported delays in hospital- or clinic-based cancer therapies, including radiation (30 percent), infusion therapies (32 percent), and surgical tumor removal (26 percent). Younger patients reported a significantly higher incidence of delays than older respondents. However, there were no significant differences in delays when examining race, insurance, site of care, or cancer stage.

“Delays are critical to capture and characterize to help cancer providers and health care systems develop effective and patient-tailored processes and strategies to manage cases during the current pandemic wave, subsequent waves, and future disasters,” the authors write.

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