The rate of colorectal cancer (CRC) screenings decreased by more than 20% during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published in Cancer Medicine.
In this retrospective, cross-sectional study, researchers assessed 1,749,688 individuals between 45 and 64 years of age. They compared the CRC screening rate from the pre-COVID-19 period (September 1, 2018-March 31, 2020) with the screening rate during the COVID-19 period (April 1, 2020-September 30, 2021). They also performed a secondary analysis to examine the interaction between the COVID-19 period, race, and a proxy for socioeconomic status.
According to the results, CRC screening overall decreased from 34% in the prepandemic period to 30% following the onset of the pandemic, and this result persisted even after adjusting for confounders. Researchers also observed prepandemic disparities among Asian, Pacific Islander, American Indian, and Alaskan Native patients, as well as patients of lower socioeconomic backgrounds. These disparities persisted in the COVID-19 period and worsened among American Indian and Alaskan Native patients and individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
“We found a 21% reduction in the odds of CRC screening in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reductions in colonoscopies and other types of screening tests were not offset by changes in the use of at-home tests such as Cologuard,” the researchers concluded. “Our findings suggest several avenues for further research into the drivers of these disparities, as well as opportunities for improvement. These [opportunities] could include increased outreach and focused initiatives designed to increase utilization of colorectal screening in at-risk subgroups, as well as enhanced promotion of at-home fecal immunochemical, or DNA, testing.”