Projected Long-Term Effects of Colorectal Cancer Screening Disruptions Following the COVID-19 Pandemic
Published in: eLife, Issue 12, e85264 (2023). doi: 10.7554/eLife.85264
Posted on rand.org May 5, 2023
The aftermath of the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic may contribute to the widening of disparities in colorectal cancer (CRC) outcomes due to differential disruptions to CRC screening. This comparative microsimulation analysis uses two CISNET CRC models to simulate the impact of ongoing screening disruptions induced by the COVID-19 pandemic on long-term CRC outcomes. We evaluate three channels through which screening was disrupted: delays in screening, regimen switching, and screening discontinuation. The impact of these disruptions on long-term CRC outcomes was measured by the number of life-years lost due to CRC screening disruptions compared to a scenario without any disruptions. While short-term delays in screening of 3-18 months are predicted to result in minor life-years loss, discontinuing screening could result in much more significant reductions in the expected benefits of screening. These results demonstrate that unequal recovery of screening following the pandemic can widen disparities in CRC outcomes and emphasize the importance of ensuring equitable recovery to screening following the pandemic.