The effect of COVID-19 on prostate cancer testing in Australia.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare in Australia have yet to be fully determined. There are well documented decreases in the rates of screening and diagnostic testing for many cancers in 2020, with commensurate stage migration of cancers when they are eventually detected. We aimed to determine whether there was a decrease in the rate of prostate cancer (PC) screening and testing in Australia in 2020.

Data was extracted from the Department of Human Services (DHS) website for Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item numbers for tests pertinent to detection of Prostate Cancer. This data is de-identified and publicly available. Data was analysed at both a national, and a state level.

For 2020 nationwide the percentage change for prostate cancer testing was minor with 97% as many PSA tests, 99% as many prostate MRIs, and 105% as many prostate biopsies as the average for the preceding years. The differences were not significant (PSA tests p = 0.059 and prostate biopsies p = 0.109). The predicted values are fairly similar to both the average values for the preceding 5 years and the actual number of tests done in 2020. With exception of PSA tests in Victoria the actual number of tests performed was within the 95% Prediction Interval (performed: 167,426; predicted 171,194-196,699; p = 0.015).

The current pandemic has had a widespread reach across Australia, with varying impact across each state and territory. Contrary to the trends across the world, our data suggest that during 2020 in Australia most areas remained unaffected in terms of prostate cancer testing excluding Victoria, which had statistically significant decrease in the number of PSA tests correlating with the extended lockdown that occurred in the state.

BMC urology. 2022 Jun 21*** epublish ***

Anika Jain, James Macneil, Lawrence Kim, Manish I Patel

Department of Urology, Westmead Hospital, Western Sydney Local District, PO Box 533, Wentworthville, NSW, 2145, Australia. ., Department of Urology, Westmead Hospital, Western Sydney Local District, PO Box 533, Wentworthville, NSW, 2145, Australia.

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