Early assessment of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer screening services: The International Cancer Screening Network COVID-19 survey

International Cancer Screening Network

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Screening can decrease the burden of breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers. The COVID-19 pandemic led many countries to suspend cancer screening services as part of their response to the pandemic. The International Cancer Screening Network (ICSN) carried out an online survey to assess the effects of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer screening. A 33-item survey was distributed to 834 email addresses to gather information about settings and assess decision-making processes that led to cancer screening suspension. Information about communication, impact on resources, and patient follow-up was collected. Quantitative data was analyzed as frequencies overall and by setting, while a comment section under each survey item captured nuanced details. Responses were recategorized into 66 settings, representing 35 countries. Most settings suspended cancer screening services (n = 60, 90.9%) in March 2020 (n = 45, 68.2%), guided by a government decision (n = 51, 77.3%). Few settings made the decision whether to suspend services based on a preparedness plan (n = 17, 25.8%). In most settings, professionals were reassigned (n = 41, 62.1%) and infrastructure repurposed (n = 35, 53.0%). The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has had profound effects on cancer screening worldwide, including the suspension of services in almost all settings. Most settings were unprepared to deal with the scale of the pandemic but demonstrated flexibility in the response. These results contribute to inform, through experiences and lessons learned, the next steps for the global cancer screening community to further evaluate the impact of COVID-19 and prepare for future disruptions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106642
JournalPreventive Medicine
Volume151
Early online date21 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jun 2021

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