Go to content

Cancer patients first treated with chemotherapy: Are they more likely to receive surgery in the pandemic?


Due to the ramping down of cancer surgery in early pandemic, many newly diagnosed patients received other treatments first. We aimed to quantify the pandemic-related shift in rate of surgery following chemotherapy. This is a retrospective population-based cohort study involving adults diagnosed with cancer between 3 January 2016 and 7 November 2020 in Ontario, Canada who received chemotherapy as first treatment within 6-months of diagnosis. Competing-risks regression models with interaction effects were used to quantify the association between COVID-19 period (receiving a cancer diagnosis before or on/after 15 March 2020) and receipt of surgical reSection 9-months after first chemotherapy. Among 51,653 patients, 8.5% (n = 19,558) of them ultimately underwent surgery 9-months after chemotherapy initiation. Receipt of surgery was higher during the pandemic than before (sHR 1.07, 95% CI 1.02–1.13). Material deprivation was independently associated with lower receipt of surgery (least vs. most deprived quintile: sHR 1.11, 95% CI 1.04–1.17), but did not change with the pandemic. The surgical rate increase was most pronounced for breast cancer (sHR 1.13, 95% CI 1.06–1.20). These pandemic-related shifts in cancer treatment requires further evaluations to understand the long-term consequences. Persistent material deprivation-related inequity in cancer surgical access needs to be addressed.



Fu R, Sutradhar R, Dare A, Li Q, Hanna TP, Chan KKW, Irish JC, Coburn N, Hallet J, Singh S, Parmar A, Earle CC, Lapointe-Shaw L, Krzyzanowska MK, Finelli A, Louie AV, Witterick JJ, Mahar A, Urbach DR, McIsaac DI, Enepekides D, Look Hong NJ, Eskander A. Curr Oncol. 2022; 29(10):7732-44. Epub 2022 Oct 14.

View Source

Research Programs

Associated Sites