How Has the Pandemic Affected Prostate Cancer Care?

The COVID-19 pandemic affected just about every aspect of everyone’s lives, to some extent. A study presented during the 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting evaluated trends in outpatient prostate cancer (PCa) using a community-based registry.

The researchers queried the American Urological Association Quality (AQUA) Registry, which a quarter of U.S. urology providers representing nearly all 50 states take part in. They assessed trends in PCa care delivery, using data from 156 practices from 2019 and 2020. The main outcome was mean weekly visit volume by PCa patients per practice, with comparisons in each week in 2020 through week 44 to its corresponding week in 2019.

A total of 267,691 patients with PCa who received care in 2019 and 2020 were identified. In 2020, from mid-March to early November, the most significant drops in care were seen in low-risk PCa. Overall, mean daily visits (averaged weekly) did not largely differ between 2019 and 2020 for the first nine weeks, but they declined to week 14, recovered by week 23, and “declined steadily” at the study’s cutoff point (week 44).

“Access to care for men with PCa was sharply curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and while the impact was less for men with high-risk disease compared to those with low-risk disease, visits even for high-risk individuals were down nearly one-third and continued to fall through November. This study provides real-world evidence on the magnitude of decline in PCa care across risk groups. The impact of this decline on cancer outcomes should be followed closely,” the researchers concluded.