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Epidemiol Health > Volume 44; 2022 > Article
Epidemiology and Health 2022;44: e2022053-0.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4178/epih.e2022053    Published online Jun 21, 2022.
The impact of COVID-19 on screening for colorectal, gastric, breast, and cervical cancer in Korea
Hyeree Park1,2,3  , Seung Hee Seo2,3,4  , Jong Heon Park5  , Shin Hye Yoo6  , Bhumsuk Keam2,7  , Aesun Shin1,2,3,4 
1Department of Preventive Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
2Cancer Research Institute, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea
3Interdisciplinary Program in Cancer Biology Major, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
4Integrated Major in Innovative Medical Science, Seoul National University Graduate School, Seoul, Korea
5Big Data Steering Department, National Health Insurance Service, Wonju, Korea
6Center for Palliative Care and Clinical Ethics, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea
7Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea
Correspondence  Aesun Shin ,Email: shinaesun@snu.ac.kr
Received: Apr 6, 2022  Accepted after revision: Jun 21, 2022
Abstract
OBJECTIVES:
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has affected the utilization of healthcare services, including participation in cancer screening programs. We compared cancer screening participation rates for colorectal, gastric, breast, and cervical cancers among participants in the National Cancer Screening Program (NCSP) in 2019 and 2020 to address the potential distraction effect of COVID-19 on cancer screening.
METHODS:
Data from the NCSP for 4 cancer types (stomach, colorectal, breast, and cervical) in 2019 and 2020 were used to calculate cancer screening participation rates by calendar month, gender, age group, and geographical region. Monthly participation rates were analyzed per 1,000 eligible individuals.
RESULTS:
The screening participation rate decreased in 2020 compared to 2019 for all 4 cancers: colorectal (40.5 vs. 35.3%), gastric (61.9 vs. 54.6%), breast (63.8 vs. 55.8%), and cervical (57.8 vs. 52.2%) cancers. Following 2 major COVID-19 waves in March and December 2020, the participation rates in the 4 types of cancer screening dropped compared with those in 2019. The highest decline was observed in the elderly population aged 80 years and older (percentage change: -21% for colorectal cancer; -20% for gastric cancer; -26% for breast cancer; -20% for cervical cancer).
CONCLUSIONS:
After the 2 major COVID-19 waves, the screening participation rate for 4 types of cancer declined compared with 2019. Further studies are needed to identify the indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer patients, such as delayed diagnoses of cancer or excess cancer deaths.
Keywords: Colorectal neoplasms, Gastric neoplasms, Breast neoplasms, Uterine cervical neoplasms, Mass screening, COVID-19
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