Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the management of colorectal cancer in Denmark


INTRODUCTION: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a global impact on cancer care but the extent to which this has affected the management of colorectal cancer (CRC) in different countries is unknown. CRC management in Denmark was thought to have been relatively less impacted than in other nations during the first wave of the pandemic. The aim of this study was to determine the pandemic's impact on CRC in Denmark.

METHODS: The Danish national cancer registry identified patients with newly diagnosed with CRC from 1 March 2020 to 1 August 2020 (pandemic interval) and corresponding dates in 2019 (prepandemic interval). Data regarding clinicopathological demographics and perioperative outcomes were retrieved and compared between the two cohorts.

RESULTS: Total CRC diagnoses (201 versus 359 per month, P = 0.008) and screening diagnoses (38 versus 80 per month, P = 0.016) were both lower in the pandemic interval. The proportions of patients presenting acutely and the stage at presentation were, however, unaffected. For those patients having surgery, both colonic and rectal cancer operations fell to about half the prepandemic levels: colon (187 (i.q.r. 183-188) to 96 (i.q.r. 94-112) per month, P = 0.032) and rectal cancers (63 (i.q.r. 59-75) to 32 (i.q.r. 28-42) per month, P = 0.008). No difference was seen in surgical practice or postoperative 30-day mortality rate (colon 2.2 versus 2.2 per cent, P = 0.983; rectal 1.0 versus 2.9 per cent, P = 0.118) between the cohorts. Treatment during the pandemic interval was not independently associated with death at 30 or 90 days.

CONCLUSION: The initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the number of new diagnoses made and number of operations but had limited impact on technique or outcomes of CRC care in Denmark.

TidsskriftBJS open
Udgave nummer6
StatusUdgivet - 9 nov. 2021


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