Delayed care for patients with newly diagnosed cancer due to COVID-19 and estimated impact on cancer mortality in France.

The impact of the first coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) wave on cancer patient management was measured within the nationwide network of the Unicancer comprehensive cancer centers in France.

The number of patients diagnosed and treated within 17 of the 18 Unicancer centers was collected in 2020 and compared with that during the same periods between 2016 and 2019. Unicancer centers treat close to 20% of cancer patients in France yearly. The reduction in the number of patients attending the Unicancer centers was analyzed per regions and cancer types. The impact of delayed care on cancer-related deaths was calculated based on different hypotheses.

A 6.8% decrease in patients managed within Unicancer in the first 7 months of 2020 versus 2019 was observed. This reduction reached 21% during April and May, and was not compensated in June and July, nor later until November 2020. This reduction was observed only for newly diagnosed patients, while the clinical activity for previously diagnosed patients increased by 4% similar to previous years. The reduction was more pronounced in women, in breast and prostate cancers, and for patients without metastasis. Using an estimated hazard ratio of 1.06 per month of delay in diagnosis and treatment of new patients, we calculated that the delays observed in the 5-month period from March to July 2020 may result in an excess mortality due to cancer of 1000-6000 patients in coming years.

In this study, the delays in cancer patient management were observed only for newly diagnosed patients, more frequently in women, for breast cancer, prostate cancer, and nonmetastatic cancers. These delays may result is an excess risk of cancer-related deaths in the coming years.

ESMO open. 2021 Apr 17 [Epub ahead of print]

J Y Blay, S Boucher, B Le Vu, C Cropet, S Chabaud, D Perol, E Barranger, M Campone, T Conroy, C Coutant, R De Crevoisier, A Debreuve-Theresette, J P Delord, P Fumoleau, J Gentil, F Gomez, O Guerin, A Jaffré, E Lartigau, C Lemoine, M A Mahe, F X Mahon, H Mathieu-Daude, Y Merrouche, F Penault-Llorca, X Pivot, J C Soria, G Thomas, P Vera, T Vermeulin, P Viens, M Ychou, S Beaupere

Centre Leon Berard, Lyon, France. Electronic address: ., Unicancer, Paris, France., Centre Leon Berard, Lyon, France., Centre Antoine Lacassagne, Nice, France., Institut de Cancerologie de l'Ouest, Nantes et Angers, France., Institut de Cancerologie de Lorraine, Nancy, France., Centre George Francoise Leclerc, Dijon, France., Centre Eugene Marquis, Rennes, France., Institut Claudius Regaud, IUCT-Oncopole, Toulouse, France., Institut Curie, Paris, France., Institut Bergonié, Bordeaux., Centre Oscar Lambret, Lille, France., Institut Paoli-Calmettes, Marseille, France., Centre François Baclesse, Caen, France., Institut de Cancerologie de Montpellier, Montpellier, France., Institut Jean Godinot, Reims, France., Centre Jean Perrin, Clermont Ferrand, France., Centre Paul Strauss/ICANS, Strasbourg, France., Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France., Centre Henri Becquerel, Rouen, France.