Background Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, health services for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have been significantly disrupted. Individuals living with NCDs, including cancer, are classified as vulnerable because of the disruption in health services and potentially compromised health status. Breast cancer (BC) is the most common cancer for women in Ireland and the impact of the pandemic on BC care is largely unknown. The aim of this study is to understand the immediate impact of the pandemic on health care utilisation for women living with and beyond BC in Ireland.
Methods The cross-sectional study included questionnaires distributed during COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, starting October 2020. Women diagnosed with BC in the past 5 years were eligible to participate and data was collected either online or through surveys distributed from hospitals. Descriptive statistics on impacted health services were analysed and results are presented as percentages and confidence intervals (CI).
Results The final study size was N=387. Most women were between 50 and 64 years of age (51.7%, N=194) and many women resided in County Dublin (43.7%, N=163). 95% of women (N=357, 95% CI [92–97]) either tested negative for COVID-19 or never believed to have contracted COVID-19. 27% (N=103, 95% CI [22 -31]) of women were undergoing BC treatment (surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy) and of these women, 25% (N=26, 95% CI [17- 35]) reported a cancellation or postponement of treatment. 43% (N=166, 95% CI [38 -48]) of women had planned future treatment and of these women, 49% (N=81, 95% CI [41–57]) reported a cancellation or postponement of treatment. 45.2% (N=159, 95% CI [40 -51]) of all women reported a cancelled or postponed follow-up appointment. Furthermore, 71% of women (N=275, 95% CI [67 -76]) experienced a remote appointment, and of those women, 62% (N=170, 95% CI [57- 69]) were satisfied with the appointment.
Conclusion This study identifies the impact of the pandemic on BC services. In conclusion, there has been a large disruption to BC services during the pandemic, including active treatment and post-active treatment. Further research is needed to understand how the health system in Ireland has responded since the outbreak of COVID-19.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.