COVID-19 Pandemic Did Not Affect Care of Pancreatic Cancer Patients

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The COVID-19 pandemic has not caused patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) to delay seeking care or prolonged the time to treatment initiation for these patients, according to a study conducted in California.

The findings were presented in a poster at the ASCO Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium 2022.

The study authors noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has been associated with delays in diagnosis and treatment for other cancers, but the effects on patients with PDAC have not been well studied.


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With this in mind, the researchers conducted a retrospective chart review. They evaluated data from 488 patients in California diagnosed with PDAC from March 2019 to September 2020.

The cohort included 333 patients who were diagnosed during the pre-COVID-19 era, which the researchers defined as March 2019 to March 2020. The remaining patients were diagnosed during the pandemic, from March 2020 to September 2020.

The patient demographics were similar between the 2 groups, except that there was a higher proportion of women diagnosed during the pandemic (P =.02).

There was no significant difference in clinical stage at diagnosis between the pre-COVID and COVID eras. Similar proportions of patients were diagnosed with resectable disease (19.5% and 17.4%, respectively), borderline resectable disease (11.1% and 11.0%), locally advanced disease (20.1% and 23.9%), and metastatic disease (31.8% and 32.9%).

There was no significant difference in the time from symptom onset to a clinical encounter between the cohorts. The median time was 21 days both pre-COVID-19 (range, 14-31 days) and during the pandemic (range, 15-31 days; P =.65).

The time from a clinical encounter to PDAC diagnosis was also similar between the groups. The median time was 11 days (range, 9-13 days) during the pre-COVID era and 13 days (range, 10-17 days) during the pandemic (P =.15).

The time from pathologic diagnosis to treatment initiation was similar between the cohorts as well. The median time was 32 days (range, 26-36 days) before the pandemic and 28 days (range, 25-32 days) during the pandemic (P =.38).

The type of treatment initiated was also similar between the cohorts (P =.29). Chemotherapy was the most common treatment before and during the pandemic (56% and 59%, respectively). Patients also underwent surgery (15% and 10%, respectively), received palliative care (6% and 10%, respectively), and had other/unknown treatments (23% and 21%, respectively).

“PDAC patients may have been spared COVID-related delays in care seen in other cancers,” the study authors wrote. “We believe that the successful adoption of telemedicine and other safety protocols have allowed patients with PDAC to continue receiving appropriate care during the pandemic.” 

Disclosures: Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of disclosures.

Read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor’s coverage of the ASCO GI 2022 meeting by visiting the conference page.

Reference

Rosso C, Valerin JB, Oviedo P, et al. A multi-institutional study of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on pancreatic cancer diagnosis and management. Presented at ASCO GI 2022; January 20-22, 2022. Abstract 526.



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