These findings suggest COVID-19 has had a detrimental effect on early diagnosis of cancer in children and young people.
The study was presented by Dr Defne Saatci from the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, UK. She said: “Spotting cancer early and starting treatment promptly gives children and young people the best chance of surviving. We already know that the COVID-19 pandemic led to worrying delays in diagnosis and treatment for many adults with cancer, so we wanted to understand how the pandemic affected children’s cancer services.”
Dr Saatci and her colleagues used the QResearch general practice database to study the numbers of different cancers diagnosed in children and young adults up to the age of 25 in the first wave of the pandemic, between 1 February and 15 August 2020. They compared this with diagnoses during the same time period in the three preceding pre-pandemic years. They also looked at the amount of time between diagnosis and the start of treatment and whether patients were diagnosed after being admitted to intensive care.