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January 2022 Connect with us Facebook Twitter Sign up  |  Archive  |  Advertise
Editor's e-Note
Happy New Year! Now that the holiday season has passed, it’s time to look ahead. In doing so, however, it may be useful to take a look back.

This month, we’re looking at some of the downstream effects of COVID-19 as they relate to cancer patients. Much has been made of the overall shift in health care delivery since the pandemic began, but it’s especially important to consider vulnerable populations, such as cancer patients, who are dealing with additional medical issues. A couple of studies that were presented at RSNA 2021 highlighted how the pandemic has affected some of those patients.

What pandemic-related changes has your facility made, and how has care delivery been affected? Let us know on Twitter and/or Facebook.

— Dave Yeager, editor
e-News Exclusive
COVID-19 Fallout May Lead to More Cancer Deaths

Significant decreases in CT imaging for cancer persisted even after the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, delaying diagnosis and treatment and raising the possibility of more advanced cancers and poorer outcomes for patients in the future, according to a study presented at RSNA 2021. Numerous studies have shown COVID-19’s severe impact on US health care, as the pandemic filled hospitals and reduced imaging capacity during its peak from March to early May 2020. Few studies, however, have explored the pandemic’s lingering effects on cancer imaging.

For the new study, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston compared cancer-related CT exams during three periods of 2020: the pre-COVID phase (January to mid-March), peak COVID (mid-March to May), and the post-COVID peak (May to mid-November). They looked at CT volume and the type of care being delivered through imaging.

As expected, CT volumes dropped significantly during the COVID peak. CT for cancer screening fell 82%, while CT for initial workup, active cancer, and cancer surveillance also saw significant declines. Volumes for cancer screening and initial workup failed to recover in the post-COVID peak period, remaining down 11.7% and 20%, respectively, from their pre-COVID levels.

“The decline during the COVID peak was expected because of stay-at-home orders and the number of imaging departments that shut down as a precaution,” said study senior author Marc Succi, MD, an emergency radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and executive director of the MESH Incubator, an in-house innovation and entrepreneurship center. “Once normal operations resumed, you’d expect that these patients were being imaged in an equitable way, but, in fact, it turns out that they weren’t.”

Full story »
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In This e-Newsletter
Worth Repeating
“Going through cancer is hard. Finding out your cancer had a head start on you is bad. Knowing that someone's mistake is why it had a head start on you is painful. But the worst of all is finding out you can do nothing to hold them accountable. I am a victim of not just cancer, but of a statute of limitation law that was wrongfully shortened.”

— Cancer survivor Kristi Howard, regarding Missouri's two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice, and the newly defunct St. Louis imaging clinic accused of providing her a faulty mammogram in 2017, as reported by KSDK
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