Association of the COVID-19 Pandemic With Rates of Prostate Cancer Biopsies and Diagnoses in Black vs White US Veterans.

Several studies have assessed the negative effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer screening and diagnosis rates. However, this has not been evaluated for prostate biopsy and prostate cancer (PC) diagnosis in an equal-access health care system.

To determine the association of the pandemic with prostate biopsy and PC diagnosis rates among Black vs White patients in the Veterans Affairs Health Care System (VAHCS).

This cohort study included a retrospective analysis of all prostate biopsies performed on patients in the VAHCS without a preexisting PC diagnosis between January 2018 and March 2021. The base population included all living male patients who had at least 1 visit to the VAHCS during the 3 years prior to each month of the study.

The COVID-19 pandemic.

The main outcomes were the number of prostate biopsies and PC diagnoses by month. The influence of the pandemic on prostate biopsy volume and the incidence of PC diagnoses was modeled using an interrupted time-series analysis. Poisson generalized linear models were fitted to project the expected number of prostate biopsies and PC diagnoses had there been no pandemic interruption. Additional models were used to test for differences by race.

Prior to the pandemic (January 2018 through February 2020), monthly biopsy numbers among 51 606 included men ranged between 1230 and 1695, of which 56% to 60% of results were positive for PC. The estimated number of missed PC diagnoses from March 2020 through March 2021 ranged from 97 cases (October 2020: 752 cases expected, 655 cases observed) to 573 cases (April 2020: 794 cases expected, 221 cases observed). Prior to the pandemic, biopsy rates were statistically significantly higher among Black vs White men (incidence rate ratio, 2.25; 95% CI, 2.06-2.46; P < .001). There was no change in biopsy rates associated with race at the onset of the pandemic nor during the recovery period from March 2020 to March 2021. Similar trends were observed for PC diagnosis rates.

Results of this cohort study demonstrate that during the COVID-19 pandemic, prostate biopsy and PC diagnosis rates decreased, particularly during the peak of the pandemic. However, there were no statistically significant changes in rates by race.

JAMA oncology. 2022 Jun 01 [Epub]

Zachary Klaassen, Shannon Stock, Justin Waller, Amanda De Hoedt, Stephen J Freedland

Division of Urology, Department of Surgery, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University, Augusta., Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts., Durham VA Health Care System, Durham, North Carolina.