Introduction/Background*The aim of the present study was to assess the impact of postponed screening examinations and lockdown measures on gynecological and breast cancer detection rate throughout the year 2020 in a gynecological oncological center in Austria.
Methodology Data of 889 patients with either newly diagnosed gynecological or breast cancer between January 2019 and December 2020 were collected. Clinical parameters including symptoms, performance status, comorbidities and referral status were compared in patients, who were newly diagnosed with cancer in the period of the first lockdown from March 2020 – April 2020 and the second lockdown from November 2020 – December 2020 and compared to the same period in 2019.
Result(s)*Our results showed a strong decline in newly diagnosed cancers during the lockdown periods: -45% in gynecological cancer and -52% in breast cancer compared to the same period in 2019. Compared to the analogue period of 2019, breast cancer patients reported significantly more tumor-associated symptoms (55% versus 31%, p=0.013) during and in between (48% versus 32%, p=0.022) the lockdowns. During the lockdown periods breast cancer patients were diagnosed with a significantly higher tumor-stage (T2-T4; p=0.047).
Conclusion*Both lockdowns led to a strong decrease in newly diagnosed gynecological and breast cancers. Treatment delays in potentially curable disease could lead to inferior clinical outcomes, with the risk of missing the optimal treatment window. As the COVID-19 pandemic will be a challenge for some time to come, new strategies in patient care are needed to optimize cancer screening and management during the pandemic.
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