Even though people have been hesitant to seek medical advice or take part in screening programs because of COVID-19, they still get ill. Patient visits to doctor offices have declined 70-80% in the US. Telemedicine has taken partial role (25%) but without utilizing the full potential of laboratory tests.1 On the other hand, screening programs and other non-urgent visits have been partly suspended during the pandemic1,2
COVID-19 may thus cause delayed diagnosis of severe diseases, such as colorectal cancer, leading to more advanced cancer upon diagnosis and worse prognosis and higher treatment costs. In the US, it has been estimated that close to 19 000 colorectal cancer (CRC) diagnoses may be missed or delayed because of 1,7 million fewer colonoscopies within only the first 3 months of COVID-19.1
The impact of COVID-19-related diagnostic delays on cancer prognosis was calculated in a population-based modelling study in UK. For colorectal cancer, the estimation was about 19% of additional deaths after 1 year from the diagnosis and about 16% additional deaths after 5 years because of postponed screenings. The effect was remarkable for colorectal cancer because it is often diagnosed at an advanced stage.2
Quantitative iFOBT testing with QuikRead go iFOBT can effectively help in prioritizing patients for colonoscopies and finding colorectal cancer earlier.3 This can be lifesaving now that queues to colonoscopies have been forming up and improving the diagnostic capacity would be needed now more than ever.1,2
- IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science. Shifts in Healthcare Demand, Delivery and Care During theCOVID-19 Era. Tracking the impact in the United States. April 2020. https://www.iqvia.com/insights..., accessed 1.12.2020
- Maringe C. et al. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer deaths due to delays in diagnosis in England, UK: a national, population-based, modelling study. 2020. Lancet Oncol. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1470-...
- Tsapournas G. et al. Diagnostic accuracy of a quantitative faecal immunochemical test vs. symptoms suspected for colorectal cancer in patients referred for colonoscopy. 2019 Scand J Gastroenterol. https://doi.org/10.1080/003655...