COVID-19 driving up late-stage cancer diagnoses, small study suggests 

Delayed screenings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to later-stage cancer diagnoses, a small study published Feb. 15 in JAMA Network Open suggests.

Researchers analyzed incidences of breast and colorectal cancer in patients who sought a diagnosis or second opinion in 2019 and 2020 at Moores Cancer Center at University of California San Diego Health. 

The total diagnoses for both cancers were roughly similar, but researchers found significant differences in early versus late-stage breast cancer diagnoses. Stage 1 breast cancer comprised 63.9 percent of diagnosed patients in 2019 compared to 51.3 percent in 2020. About 1.9 percent of patients were diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 2019 compared to 6.2 percent in 2020.

Similar trends were observed in colorectal cancer patients.

Noted limitations to the study include it being a single-center study, smaller sample size of colorectal cancer patients and inclusion of patients seeking a second opinion.


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