• Last updated: Wed, Nov 8, 2023Status: Ongoing
  • Anders Hansson Elliot, AnnaMia Ekström, and Ulf Gustafsson

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Surgical Treatment of Colorectal Cancer Patients in Sweden

In March 2020, during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant portion of healthcare resources in Sweden and worldwide were redirected towards pandemic control. This also impacted surgical procedures, including those for imperative cases such as cancer and acute/subacute conditions. Some newly operated patients became infected with SARS-CoV-2, leading to perioperative deaths. This situation triggered a national and international debate on the criteria for performing surgeries during a pandemic. Various national perioperative guidelines were developed despite the lack of concrete evidence.

Even after the pandemic, there remains a dearth of evidence-based recommendations for optimized surgery during a viral outbreak. Comprehensive data regarding the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on the diagnosis, investigation, treatment, and outcomes of colorectal cancer patients is currently lacking. Furthermore, there is a scarcity of data on the cancer stage displacement resulting from delayed diagnoses and the role of vaccination in surgical outcomes. Additionally, we lack information on the potential impact of socioeconomic disparities in the population on these aspects.

This study therefore aims to investigate how the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden affected the investigation, diagnosis, and surgical treatment of patients with colorectal cancer. For this, we set up a retrospective cohort using the diverse register data available to the SWECOV program, including the National Board of Health and Welfare’s inpatient register, National Vaccination Register, ERAS database, Swedish Colorectal Cancer Registry, Cause of Death Registry, and socioeconomic data from Statistics Sweden.

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