The study shows a decline in prostate cancer diagnoses during the pandemic

During the first wave of the corona pandemic, 36 percent fewer men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in Sweden than in previous years. On the other hand, the number of patients receiving curative treatment for prostate cancer was not affected. This is shown by a new registry study by researchers at Uppsala University, the results of which are published in the Scandinavian Journal of Urology.

We believe that the number of diagnosed cases has decreased because the Swedish Health Department asked older people early on to minimize their social contacts and for the same reason to forego non-urgent health care. At the same time, the Swedish Guidelines for Treatment of Prostate Cancer Working Group recommended that only men with symptoms of prostate cancer should see a doctor. The results of the study show that the recommendations were followed. “

Pär Stattin, Professor of Urology at Uppsala University and holder of the National Prostate Cancer Registry (NCPR)

The study is based on data from NCPR, which included 98 percent of the approximately 10,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer in Sweden each year. Detailed reports on cancer characteristics and initial treatment are also included in this registry.

When the researchers compared the period of the first pandemic wave from March to June 2020 with the corresponding months in 2017 to 19, they found that the number of registered cases of prostate cancer had decreased significantly in the spring of 2020, at 51 percent the decrease was Men from 75 years of age. For men under the age of 70, the corresponding figure was 28 percent. Preliminary, as yet unpublished data from autumn 2020 show that the number of cases fell less sharply during the second wave of pandemics than in the first.

“The impact of this decline on the prognosis of men whose cancer was undiagnosed in 2020 depends in part on whether health services have the ability to diagnose it. Since most prostate cancers are slow to progress, this is reasonable I believe that a certain delay will have little effect, “says Stattin.

At the same time, the study shows that the number of men who have had surgery for their cancer has not changed. This can be partly explained by the fact that waiting lists for care could be shortened when fewer diagnoses were made. The number of men who received curative radiation was up to 32 percent higher than in previous years. According to the researchers, this reflects a continuation of the upward trend in recent years, in which radiation therapy has increasingly been used for prostate cancer, especially locally advanced cancer.

“Our study suggests that Swedish healthcare made cancer treatment a priority during the pandemic and that prostate cancer treatment was less affected in this country than in other European countries,” says Stattin.


Journal reference:

Fallara, G. et al. (2021) Diagnosing, staging and treating prostate cancer in Sweden during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Scandinavian journal for urology.

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