Continuity of care for patients with de novo metastatic cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic: A population-based observational study

Ellis Slotman*, Feike Weijzen, Heidi P. Fransen, Jolanda C. van Hoeve, Auke M.T. Huijben, Evelien J.M. Kuip, Agnes Jager, Peter W.A. Kunst, Hanneke W.M. van Laarhoven, Jolien Tol, Vivianne C.G. Tjan-Heijnen, Natasja J.H. Raijmakers, Yvette M. van der Linden, Sabine Siesling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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During the COVID-19 pandemic recommendations were made to adapt cancer care. This population-based study aimed to investigate possible differences between the treatment of patients with metastatic cancer before and during the pandemic by comparing the initial treatments in five COVID-19 periods (weeks 1–12 2020: pre-COVID-19, weeks 12–20 2020: 1st peak, weeks 21–41 2020: recovery, weeks 42–53 2020: 2nd peak, weeks 1–20 2021: prolonged 2nd peak) with reference data from 2017 to 2019. The proportion of patients receiving different treatment modalities (chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, immunotherapy or targeted therapy, radiotherapy primary tumor, resection primary tumor, resection metastases) within 6 weeks of diagnosis and the time between diagnosis and first treatment were compared by period. In total, 74,208 patients were included. Overall, patients were more likely to receive treatments in the COVID-19 periods than in previous years. This mainly holds for hormone therapy, immunotherapy or targeted therapy and resection of metastases. Lower odds were observed for resection of the primary tumor during the recovery period (OR 0.87; 95% CI 0.77–0.99) and for radiotherapy on the primary tumor during the prolonged 2nd peak (OR 0.84; 95% CI 0.72–0.98). The time from diagnosis to the start of first treatment was shorter, mainly during the 1st peak (average 5 days, p <.001). These findings show that during the first 1.5 years of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were only minor changes in the initial treatment of metastatic cancer. Remarkably, time from diagnosis to first treatment was shorter. Overall, the results suggest continuity of care for patients with metastatic cancer during the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1786-1793
Number of pages8
JournalInternational journal of cancer
Issue number10
Early online date24 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2024


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Treatment
  • COVID-19
  • Metastatic cancer


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