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Epidemiology and Health 2022;e2022051.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4178/epih.e2022051    [Accepted] Published online May 30, 2022.
Changes in cancer screening before and during COVID‐19: Findings from the Korean National Cancer Screening Survey 2019 and 2020
Thao Thi Kim Trinh1  , Yun Yeong Lee2  , Mina Suh2  , Jae Kwan Jun2  , Kui Son Choi1,2 
1Graduate School of Cancer Science and Policy, National Cancer Center, Goyang, Gyeonggi-do, Republic of Korea
2National Cancer Control Institute, National Cancer Center, Goyang, Gyeonggi-do, Republic of Korea
Correspondence  Kui Son Choi ,Email: kschoi@ncc.re.kr
Received: Mar 1, 2022  Accepted after revision: May 30, 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected every aspect of medical care. However, information regarding the impact of the pandemic on cancer screening is lacking. This study aimed to explore cancer screening changes by geographic region before and during the pandemic in South Korea.
Korean National Cancer Screening Survey (KNCSS) data for 2019 and 2020 were used. Changes in the screening rate before and during the COVID-19 pandemic were calculated by subtracting the rate in 2020 from the rate in 2019. Multivariate logistic regression analyses examined the differences in screening rates at national and 16 provincial levels before and after the COVID-19 outbreak.
The 1-year screening rates for the four types of cancer decreased during the pandemic (stomach cancer: -5.1%p, colorectal cancer: -3.8%p, breast cancer: -2.5%p, cervical cancer: -1.5%p). In metropolitan areas, the odds of undergoing screening tests during the pandemic was significantly lower than before the pandemic for stomach (aOR = 0.66, 95% CI: 0.56 - 0.76), colorectal (aOR = 0.63, 95% CI: 0.50 - 0.79), and breast cancers (aOR = 0.75, 95% CI: 0.60 - 0.94). Furthermore, the likelihood of undergoing stomach cancer screening during the pandemic was significantly lower than before the pandemic in urban areas (aOR = 0.81, 95% CI: 0.70 - 0.94), while it was higher in rural areas (aOR = 1.54, 95% CI: 1.10 - 2.16).
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the cancer screening rate has decreased significantly, especially in large cities. Public health efforts are required to improve cancer screening rates.
Keywords: cancer; screening; COVID-19


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