Andrea (Andi) Dwyer, a Steering Committee Member of the Alliance advises Fight Colorectal Cancer on their research and patient support aims.  Under the direction of Ms. Dwyer, Fight CRC led a collaboration with the healthcare technology company, Komodo Health, to develop a research brief published by Reuters and featured by The New York Times highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on colorectal cancer (CRC) care volumes, behaviors, and attitudes.  This report was developed based on findings from a Komodo Health analysis and from Fight CRC patient focus groups and surveys aimed at better understanding the current landscape of cancer and the coronavirus, and how to prepare for the future.

According to the brief:

“the findings underscore the need for public health and health system policies that can prioritize vulnerable populations and for those whom a delay in care is most likely to result in poor outcomes.”

There is a huge opportunity for patient navigators to address delayed cancer screenings and health equity during this COVID-19 crisis-regardless of the pandemic, said Dwyer.  The Colorado Cancer Screening Program, the Alliance and national initiatives are underway to address access to care.  We must keep our underserved communities at the fore front.

Key Takeaways

  • The total number of colonoscopies and biopsies performed declined nearly 90% by mid-April compared to the same period last year.
  • New colorectal cancer diagnoses were down more than 32% by mid-April and colorectal cancer surgeries fell by 53% compared to year-ago figures.
  • Nearly 40% of colorectal cancer patients and caregivers reported disruptions in their care, especially as it relates to in-person visits and imaging. Of these, 25% said they did not know when their care would be rescheduled, and 34% said their visits changed to telehealth.
  • A majority (78%) of colorectal cancer patients feel nervous, anxious, or on edge, and 57% reported they are concerned about contracting COVID-19. Twenty percent report feelings of isolation.