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Delays in Cancer Surgery Due to COVID-19 Could Harm Survival

Per-patient delay of three or six months would result in an estimated 92,214 or 208,275 life-years lost

surgeon with scalpel

FRIDAY, May 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Modest delays in cancer surgery due to the COVID-19 pandemic could have a significant impact on survival, according to a study published online May 19 in the Annals of Oncology.

Amit Sud, M.B.Ch.B., Ph.D., from the Institute of Cancer Research in London, and colleagues generated per-day hazard ratios of cancer progression from observational studies and applied these to age- and stage-specific cancer survival for England in 2013 to 2017. Per-patient delay of three months and six months was modeled, as were periods of disruption of one and two years.

The researchers found that 94,912 resections for major cancers result in 80,406 long-term survivors and 1,717,051 life-years gained per year. Per-patient delay of three or six months would result in attributable deaths of 4,755 or 10,760 of these individuals, with 92,214 or 208,275 life-years lost. The average life-years gained (LYGs) for cancer surgery are 18.1 per patient under standard conditions and 17.1 or 15.9 with a delay of three or six months (average loss of 0.97 or 2.19 LYG per patient). Per patient, surgery results in 2.25 resource-adjusted life-years gained (RALYGs) under standard conditions and 2.12 or 1.97 RALYGs following delay of three or six months, taking into account units of health care resource (HCRUs). There were 482,022 LYGs requiring 1,052,949 HCRUs for 94,912 hospital COVID-19 admissions. On average, per patient, 5.08 LYGs and 0.46 RALYGs were yielded with hospitalization of community-acquired COVID-19 patients.

"To avoid a deferred public health crisis of unnecessary cancer deaths, urgent ringfencing of substantial resources is required," the authors write.

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