Changes in colorectal cancer treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan: Interrupted time-series analysis using the National Database of Japan

Misuzu Fujita, Kazuya Yamaguchi, Kengo Nagashima, Kiminori Suzuki, Tokuzo Kasai, Hideyuki Hashimoto, Yoshihiro Onouchi, Daisuke Sato, Takehiko Fujisawa, Akira Hata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic forced us to accept changes in our usual diagnostic procedures and treatments for colorectal cancer. This study aimed to determine the impact of the pandemic on colorectal cancer treatment in Japan. Methods: The number of colorectal surgeries, stoma constructions, stent placements or long tube insertions, and neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapies were determined each month using sampling datasets from the National Database of Health Insurance Claims and Specific Health Checkups of Japan. The observation periods before and during the pandemic were January 2015 to January 2020 and April 2020 to January 2021, respectively. An interrupted time-series analysis was used to estimate the changes in the number of procedures during the pandemic. Results: The number of endoscopic surgeries for colon cancer significantly decreased in April and July 2020 and for rectal cancer in April 2020. Additionally, the number of laparoscopic and open surgeries for colon cancer significantly decreased in July 2020 and October 2020, respectively. The number of stoma constructions and stent placements or long tube insertions did not increase during the observation period. Neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy for rectal cancer significantly increased in April 2020 but levels returned shortly thereafter. These results suggest that the recommendations to overcome the pandemic proposed by expert committees, including the replacement of laparoscopic surgery with open surgery, stoma construction to avoid anastomotic leak, and replacement of surgery on the ileus with stent placement, were not widely implemented in Japan. However, as an exception, neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy for rectal cancer was performed as an alternative treatment to delay surgery in small quantities. Conclusion: A declining number of surgeries raises concerns about cancer stage progression; however, we found no evidence to suggest cancer progression from the trajectory of the number of stoma constructions and stent placements. In Japan, even during the pandemic, conventional treatments were performed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102391
JournalCancer Epidemiology
Volume85
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 08-2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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