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Worldwide Drop in Cancer Screening Seen Early in Pandemic

Significant drops in cancer screening observed for several types of cancer

WEDNESDAY, July 13, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Initial COVID-19 pandemic measures were associated with significant drops in cancer screening worldwide for breast, colorectal, and cervical cancers, according to a review published online July 7 in JAMA Oncology.

Federica Teglia, M.D., from University of Bologna in Italy, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to examine the pandemic’s association with cancer screening worldwide. The meta-analysis included 39 publications.

The researchers observed an overall decrease of −46.7 percent for breast cancer screening, −44.9 percent for colorectal cancer screening, and −51.8 percent for cervical cancer screening during the pandemic. A U-shaped temporal trend was identified for all three cancers. A negative peak was seen in April 2020 for mammography (−74.3 percent) and for colonoscopy and fecal occult blood test or fecal immunochemical test (−69.3 percent) and in March 2020 for the Papanicolaou test or human papillomavirus test (−78.8 percent). Differences were also observed by geographic area and screening setting.

“COVID-19 pandemic measures were associated with widely reduced cancer screening services, which was possibly associated with delayed cancer diagnosis and increased cancer mortality,” the authors write. “Effective interventions are required to restore the capacity of screening services to the prepandemic level.”

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