The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of medical care, including cancer screening and preventative measures. Colorectal cancer screening declined significantly at the onset of the pandemic as the result of an intentional effort to conserve resources, prioritize emergencies and reduce risk of transmission. There has already been an increase in diagnosis at more advanced stages and symptomatic emergencies due to suspended screenings. As endoscopy units find their way back to pre-pandemic practices, a backlog of cases remains. The missed CRC diagnoses amongst the missed screenings carry a risk of increased morbidity and mortality which will only increase as time-to-diagnosis grows. This review discusses the impact of COVID-19 on colonoscopy screening rates, trends in stages/symptoms/circumstances at diagnosis, and economic and social impact of delayed diagnosis. Triaging and use of FITs are proposed solutions to the challenge of catching up with the large number of pandemic-driven missed CRC screenings.
COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, colonoscopy, colorectal cancer, fecal immunochemical test, screening
Sundaram S, Olson S, Sharma P, Rajendra S. A Review of the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Colorectal Cancer Screening: Implications and Solutions. Pathogens. 2021; 10(11). doi: 10.3390/pathogens10111508.