The impact of COVID-19 pandemic in the colorectal cancer prevention

Colorectal Cancer

Del Vecchio Blanco G, et al. Int J Colorectal Dis 2020.


BACKGROUND: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has led to a policy of severe restrictions in almost all countries strongly involved by the pandemic. National Health System is among activities suffering from the COVID-19 and the lockdown.

AIM: To evaluate the impact of COVID-19 in colorectal cancer (CRC) prevention.

METHODS: We report the change in the hospital organization to meet the growing healthcare needs determined by COVID-19. The limitations of CRC prevention secondary to COVID-19 and their effects on the healthcare are analyzed considering the features of the CRC screening programs in the average-risk population and endoscopic surveillance in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).

RESULTS: The interruption of CRC prevention may lead to a delayed diagnosis of CRC, possibly in a more advanced stage. The economic burden and the impact on workload for gastroenterologists, surgeons, and oncologists will be greater as long as the CRC prevention remains suspended. To respond to the increased demand for colonoscopy once COVID-19 will be under control, we should optimize the resources. It will be necessary to stratify the CRC risk and reach an order of priority. It should be implemented the number of health workers, equipment, and spaces dedicated to performing colonoscopy for screening purpose and in subjects with alarm symptoms in the shortest time. To this aim, the funds earmarked for healthcare should be increased.

CONCLUSION: The economic impact will be dramatic, but COVID-19 is the demonstration that healthcare has to be the primary goal of humans.