Skin Cancer Diagnoses in the UK During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Pavankumar Kamat

August 14, 2020

There has been a decrease in overall skin cancer diagnoses in the UK during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study suggests.

Researchers analysed data from the Northern Cancer Network for the period between 23 March 2020 and 23 June 2020, corresponding with the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK. Percentage change in skin cancer diagnoses and skin cancer waiting times were compared for the COVID-19 period and the same period last year.

There was a 68.61 per cent reduction in the diagnoses of skin cancer when the COVID-19 period was compared with the corresponding period last year (P<.0028). Surprisingly, a reduction in skin cancer waiting times was also witnessed between the two periods (from median 12 days to 8 days; P<.0001).

According to the authors, reduced waiting times could be a result of prioritisation of cancer referrals and an overall reduction in skin cancer referrals from primary care. The reluctance of the patients to seek medical attention during the pandemic may have contributed to the decreased referral rates. They also believe that greater use of telemedicine may have enabled appropriate triage of lesions which would otherwise need in-person assessment by a specialist.

Writing in the journal  Clinical and Experimental Dermatology,  the authors said: "As the pandemic endures, it is particularly crucial for both doctors and patients to be aware of the decreasing presentation of skin cancers and shortened waiting times to facilitate thoughtful and transparent decision making."

Andrew TW, Alrawi M, Lovat P. Reduction in Skin Cancer Diagnoses in the UK during COVID-19 Pandemic. Clin. Exp. Dermatol.2020 Aug 05 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1111/ced.14411. PMID: 32754962 View abstract.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.



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