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Colon cancer diagnosis has dropped 40% in pandemic, which is not good news

By Cara Murez
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, October 4, 2021 (HealthDay News) -The number of cancers of the colon dropped dramatically during COVID-19 pandemic, but that does not mean that fewer people have the disease.

In Spain, researchers found a decrease of more than 40% colon cancer diagnoses, which cause experts to worry about the consequences.

“These are indeed very worrying findings – cases of colorectal cancer were undoubtedly not diagnosed during the pandemic. Not only were there fewer diagnoses, but those diagnosed tended to be later and had more severe symptoms,” he said. lead author dr. María José Domper Arnal. She is from the Service of Digestive Diseases, the University Clinic Hospital and the Aragón Health Research Institute in Zaragoza.

‘Although these numbers have a population of 1.3 million in Spain, it is very likely that the same decline in diagnoses would have occurred elsewhere around the world where screening has been discontinued and operations postponed, especially in countries severely affected by COVID-19, ‘Arnal added.

The researchers compared data from the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic (March 15, 2020 to February 28, 2021) with data from the previous year. They found that nearly two-thirds of the 1,385 cases of colon cancer diagnosed in the two years in various hospitals in Spain occurred in the pre-pandemic year.

In addition, 27% fewer colonoscopies were performed during the pandemic than in the previous year.

Those diagnosed in the pandemic year were older than in the pre-pandemic year, had more frequent symptoms, greater complications, and were seen in a more advanced disease stage.

These symptoms can include intestinal perforation, abscesses, bowel obstruction bleeding requiring hospitalization. These issues accounted for nearly 15% of cases during the pandemic, compared to less than 11% pre-pandemic. Phase 4 cancers were about 20% during the pandemic and about 16% before the pandemic.

It is estimated that there are almost 150,000 cases of colon or rectal cancer in the United States this year, and nearly 53,000 deaths due to the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

The study suggests suspension of screening programs and postponement of non-urgent colonoscopies as reasons for the decline. During the pandemic, fewer cancers were found during routine examinations, and more were diagnosed by symptoms according to symptoms.

The research was presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the United European Gastroenterology, UEG Week Virtual 2021. Findings presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

“Colorectal cancer is often cured if it is noticed at an early stage. We are concerned that we are losing the opportunity to diagnose patients at this early stage, and this will have an effect on patient outcomes and survival,” Arnal said. . in a press release of a meeting. “We’ll probably see this fallout for years to come.”

More information

The American Cancer Society has more on this colon cancer.

SOURCE: United European Gastroenterology, News Release, October 3, 2021

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