Cancer Screening, Monitoring Down During Pandemic

Richard Franki

May 05, 2020

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

The use of some cancer screening and monitoring tests in the United States came to "a near standstill" in early April, according to a report by the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science.

There were 90% fewer colonoscopies ordered during the week ending April 10, compared with the weekly average for Feb. 1-28, based on claims data analyzed by IQVIA.

IQVIA's medical claims database includes more than 205 million patients, over 1.7 billion claims, and 3 billion service records obtained annually.

The data also showed an 87% reduction in mammograms and an 83% reduction in Pap smears during the week ending April 10. Prostate-specific antigen tests for prostate cancer decreased by 60%, and CT scans for lung cancer decreased by 39%.

The smaller decrease in CT scans for lung cancer "may reflect the generally more serious nature of those tumors or be due to concerns about ruling out COVID-related issues in some patients," according to report authors Murray Aitken and Michael Kleinrock, both of IQVIA.

The report also showed that overall patient interactions with oncologists were down by 20% through April 3, based on medical and pharmacy claims processed since February, but there was variation by tumor type.

The authors noted "little or no disruption" in oncologist visits in March for patients with aggressive tumors or those diagnosed at advanced stages, compared with February. However, for patients with skin cancer or prostate cancer, visit rates were down by 20%-50% in March.

"This may reflect that oncologists who are providing care across multiple tumor types are prioritizing their time and efforts to those patients with more advanced or aggressive tumors," the authors wrote.

This report was produced by the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science without industry or government funding.

SOURCE: Murray A and Kleinrock M. Shifts in healthcare demand, delivery and care during the COVID-19 era. IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science. April 2020.

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