Eur J Cancer. 2022 Oct 12;177:72-79. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2022.09.027. Online ahead of print.
AIMS: We analysed the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic (COVID-19) on the quality of breast cancer care in certified EUSOMA (European Society of Breast Cancer Specialists) breast centres.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The results of the EUSOMA quality indicators were compared, based on pseudonymised individual records, for the periods 1 March 2020 till 30 June 2020 (first COVID-19 peak in most countries in Europe) and 1 March 2019 till 30 June 2019. In addition, a questionnaire was sent to the participating Centres for investigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the organisation and the quality of breast cancer care.
RESULTS: Forty-five centres provided data and 31 (67%) responded to the questionnaire. The total number of new cases dropped by 19% and there was a small significant higher tumour (p = 0.003) and lymph node (p = 0.011) stage at presentation. Comparing quality indicators (12,736 patients) by multivariable analysis showed mostly non-significant differences. Surgery could be performed in a COVID-free zone in 94% of the centres, COVID testing was performed before surgery in 96% of the centres, and surgical case load was reduced in 55% of the centres. Modifications of the indications for neoadjuvant endocrine therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy were necessary in 23%, 23%, and 10% of the centres; changes in indications for adjuvant endocrine, chemo-, targeted, immune, and radiotherapy in 3%, 19%, 3%, 6%, and 10%, respectively.
CONCLUSION: Quality of breast cancer care was well maintained in EUSOMA breast centres during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. A small but significantly higher tumour and lymph node stage at presentation was observed.