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A new large study based on nationwide surveillance data shows that due to a combination of delayed screening and missed appointments, more than 134,000 cancer diagnoses were missed in the United States in the first 10 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The longer a cancer goes undetected, the less likely a patient will have a positive outcome,” says Crystal Lang Kuhs, PhD, MPH, a university senior author on the paper. This is a lost opportunity to defeat AD at its most treatable stage.” Kentucky press release.

The study, published in JAMA OncologyThe study was conducted by researchers at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center and was based on information from all 50 states from the June 2023 release of the US Cancer Statistics Public Use Database.

The largest decline in cancer diagnoses was between March and May 2020, when diagnoses dropped 28.6% from rates seen in 2018 and 2019. Overall, diagnoses declined by 13.0% from March 2020 to December 2020.

Prostate cancer most missed

All told, these reductions equate to potentially 134,395 undiagnosed cancers during 2020 (95% prediction interval, 112,544 to 156,680).

The authors said that of the cancers caught by annual screening, the most likely missed cases were prostate cancer (22,950), followed by cancers of the female breast (16,870) and lung (16,333).

Undoubtedly – ​​and unfortunately – cancer mortality rates will increase subsequently.

After the first 3 months of the pandemic, female breast cancer detection rates increased again, but rates of colorectal, cervical, and lung cancers remained low for the remainder of 2020.

“Undoubtedly—and unfortunately—there will be a subsequent increase in cancer mortality. How large an increase and for how long will provide a more complete picture of the consequences of COVID-19 disruptions on the cancer burden in the US,” the authors concluded.

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