Cancer diagnostic rates during the 2020 'lockdown', due to COVID-19 pandemic, compared with the 2018-2019: an audit study from cellular pathology.

We performed an audit to evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic-related delay in the diagnosis of major cancers at a Pathology Unit of a Secondary Care Hospital Network in Italy.

A comparison was made among the number of first cellular pathological diagnoses of malignancy made from the 11th to the 20th week of the years 2018-2020.

Cancer diagnoses fell in 2020 by 39% compared with the average number recorded in 2018 and 2019. Prostate cancer (75%) bladder cancer (66%) and colorectal cancer (CRC; 62%) had the greatest decrease. CRC was identified as carrying a potentially important diagnostic delay.

For CRC corrective procedures (continuing mass screening tests; patient triage by family physicians; diagnostic procedures alternative to colonoscopy; predictive evaluation on biopsy samples) were advised. Our simple audit model is widely applicable to avoid pandemic-related delay in clinical diagnosis of cancer.

Journal of clinical pathology. 2020 Jun 19 [Epub ahead of print]

Ludovica De Vincentiis, Richard A Carr, Maria Paola Mariani, Gerardo Ferrara

Anatomic Pathology, Hospital of Macerata, Macerata, Italy., Department of Histopathology, Warwick Hospital, Warwick, UK., Anatomic Pathology, Hospital of Macerata, Macerata, Italy .