Inequalities in the recovery of colorectal cancer services during the COVID-19 pandemic: a national population-based study.

Publication date: Feb 01, 2024

Evidence is lacking on whether there were inequalities in the recovery of colorectal cancer (CRC) services within the English National Health Service (NHS) following the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of this study was to evaluate recovery according to patient age and socioeconomic status. Using routinely collected data, CRC patients diagnosed and treated in the English NHS were identified for two timeframes: the ‘initial pandemic period’ (April-June 2020) and the ‘pandemic period’ (April 2020-March 2022). Poisson models evaluated changes in numbers of diagnoses, major resections, adjuvant chemotherapy and neoadjuvant radiotherapy use for each timeframe, relative to the equivalent pre-pandemic timeframe (April-June 2019 and April 2018-March 2020, respectively), stratified by age and socioeconomic status. Tumour stage at presentation was evaluated over time. Substantial deficits in diagnoses, major resections and adjuvant chemotherapy were identified in the initial pandemic period, whilst the use of neoadjuvant radiotherapy increased. Overall, these deficits recovered. Patients outside screening age, and in the most deprived group, had greater deficits in diagnoses and major resections. There was no evidence of stage migration by June 2021. CRC services showed recovery to baseline during the pandemic. However, evident inequalities must be addressed in ongoing recovery efforts. Long-term outcomes will fully establish the impact of the pandemic on CRC patients.

Concepts Keywords
April colorectal cancer
Models COVID-19
Pandemic deprivation
Radiotherapy health services research


Type Source Name
disease MESH colorectal cancer
pathway KEGG Colorectal cancer
disease MESH COVID-19 pandemic
disease VO population
disease VO time

Original Article

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