Lung Cancer Screening Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
Posted: Wednesday, March 17, 2021
A recent article published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons reported the findings of a retrospective study examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on lung cancer screening and the development of subsequent cancer. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a shutdown of low-dose CT screening programs, and the resultant long-term and short-term impacts still unknown. Sandra L. Starnes, MD, FACS, of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and colleagues found that as screening reopened, the total monthly and new patient monthly screenings were significantly decreased. They also found that the percentage of patients with lung nodules suspicious for malignancy was significantly increased after screenings were fully resumed.
“We have to make sure as health-care providers that we’re taking care of patients who have COVID-19 and along with the rest of the population who don’t have COVID-19, and that those two patient populations can safely co-exist and receive treatment,” said lead study author Robert M. Van Haren, MD, MSPH, FACS, a study coauthor, in an American College of Surgeons press release.
A total of 2,153 patients participated in this study. The monthly mean screenings during the COVID-19 period were compared with baseline screening averages during the baseline period. Findings revealed that the total monthly screens (146 ± 31 vs. 39 ± 40; P < .01) and new patient monthly screens (56 ± 14 vs. 15 ± 17; P < .01) were significantly decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings also revealed that 3- and 6-month follow-up screens were prioritized and were significantly increased compared with baseline (11 ± 4 vs. 30 ± 4; P < .01). Furthermore, the “no-show” rate was significantly increased from baseline (15% vs. 40%; P < .04), and the percentage of patients with lung nodules suspicious for malignancy was significantly increased after screenings resumed (8% vs. 29%; P < .01).
Disclosure: The authors reported no conflicts of interest.