A new study conducted by scientists from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and collaborators describes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the cancer screening continuum in selected low- and middle-income countries. The study, which is the first to provide an overview of and document this impact in such settings, has been published in the International Journal of Cancer.
Managers and supervisors of 18 cancer screening programmes in 17 countries participated in the survey. Lockdowns were imposed in all but one of these countries. Screening was suspended for at least 30 days in 13 of the countries, and diagnostic services for screen‐positive individuals were suspended in 9 of the countries. All but 5 of the countries continued cancer treatment.
The survey participants rated the availability of services during the pandemic compared with before the pandemic. At least 70% of participants strongly agreed that increased non-compliance of screen-positive individuals and staff being overloaded or overwhelmed with backlogs would have deep impacts on screening programmes for at least the next six months.
The study also describes best practices adopted to face the crisis. Sharing such information can help programme coordinators to improve the resilience of screening services.
Villain P, Carvalho AL, Lucas E, Mosquera I, Zhang L, Muwonge R, et al.
Cross-sectional survey of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer screening programmes in selected low- and middle-income countries: study from the IARC COVID-19 impact study group
Int J Cancer, Published online 3 February 2021;