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COVID-19 Original Article No evidence of delay in colorectal cancer diagnosis during the COVID-19 pandemic in Gwangju and Jeonnam, Korea
Hye-Yeon Kim1orcid , Min-Gyeong Kim2,3orcid , Mi-Ran Kang2,3orcid , Jeong-Ho Yang1orcid , Min-Ho Shin1orcid , Sun-Seog Kweon1,2,3orcid
Epidemiol Health 2022;44e2022092-0
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4178/epih.e2022092
Published online: October 17, 2022
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1Department of Preventive Medicine, Chonnam National University Medical School, Hwasun, Korea
2Gwangju/Jeonnam Cancer Registry, Chonnam National University Hwasun Hospital, Hwasun, Korea
3Gwangju-Jeonnam Regional Cancer Center, Chonnam National University Hwasun Hospital, Hwasun, Korea
Corresponding author:  Sun-Seog Kweon,
Email: ujingogo@paran.com
Received: 6 August 2022   • Revised: 8 October 2022   • Accepted: 17 October 2022

OBJECTIVES
We evaluated whether the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused delays in the diagnosis and treatment of colorectal cancer (CRC) in Korea, where there have been no regional or hospital lockdowns during the pandemic period.
METHODS
Data on CRC patients (n=1,445) diagnosed in Gwangju Metropolitan City and Jeonnam Province between January 2019 and December 2021 were assessed. The stage at the time of CRC diagnosis, route to diagnosis, time to initial cancer treatment, and length of hospital admission were compared before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Logistic regression was also performed to identify factors associated with the risk for diagnosis in an advanced stage.
RESULTS
No negative effects indicating a higher CRC stage at diagnosis or delayed treatment during the pandemic were observed. Instead, the risk for an advanced stage at diagnosis (TNM stage III/IV) decreased in CRC patients diagnosed during the pandemic (odds ratio, 0.768; 95% confidence interval, 0.647 to 0.911). No significant differences in the interval from diagnosis to operation or chemotherapy were observed.
CONCLUSIONS
No negative effects on CRC diagnosis and treatment were found until the end of 2021, which may be related to the small magnitude of the COVID-19 epidemic, the absence of a lockdown policy in Korea, and the rebound in the number of diagnostic colonoscopy procedures in 2021.


Epidemiol Health : Epidemiology and Health