Lung Cancer Detection During COVID-19 Pandemic

Title: Lung Cancer Detection During COVID-19 Pandemic
Author(s): D. Halim S. Foley A. Asis CR. Cayabyab C. Higgins F. Colhoun D. Burnell RK. Morgan ME. O’Brien
Institution: Department of Respiratory Medicine, Beaumont Hospital
Poster: Click to view poster
Category: Lung Cancer and Bronchoscopy
Abstract: Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide and delayed diagnosis is associated with poor outcomes. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a considerable strain on healthcare services internationally. Our aim is to establish the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on lung cancer detection in Beaumont Hospital across the 3 waves.

We compared the number of lung cancer referrals and lung cancer diagnoses made via both the in-patient and out-patient pathways throughout the COVID-19 pandemic compared to similar periods in the two years preceding; 2019 and 2018.

The number of referral to Rapid Access Lung Cancer Clinic (RALCC) saw a significant reduction during the first wave (56, 67%, p<0.001), significant increase during the second wave (25, 38%, p=0.0015) and non-significant change in the third wave (14, 17%, p>0.05) when compared to previous years. Despite the variability in each wave, all referrals were seen in RALCC within the targeted 10 working days. Total lung cancer diagnoses remained similar to previous years but with significant increased proportion of late stage diagnoses. Total inpatient diagnoses of lung cancer in 2020 almost doubled compared to previous years of which more than 90% were in advanced stage.

These results demonstrated that lung cancer detection was delayed during the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic with subsequent compensatory increase in referral and late stage diagnosis. Continuation of RALCC services is critically important in the face of a pandemic to ensure timely detection of lung cancer which may lead to earlier detection and an improved prognosis