The COVID-19 pandemic has a worldwide influence on cancer detection and treatment. For example, prostate cancer accounted for roughly a third of all missed cancer cases in England, and continuous public awareness programs are being conducted to locate these “missing men.” To guide future public health initiatives and lessen the burden of COVID-19 on men with prostate cancer, researchers intended to detect changes in the characteristics and outcomes of men diagnosed or treated throughout the time.

Electronic secondary healthcare records from the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) collection were used in a retrospective observational cohort research. Men aged 45+ who received a prostate cancer diagnosis between October 1, 2018, and March 31, 2021, in England, were included in the cohort. These men’s sociodemographic traits, treatment patterns, and death rates were examined. The chi-squared test was used to compare characteristics or results before COVID-19 and during COVID-19.

The study comprised 40,556 males diagnosed during the epidemic (April 2020–March 2021) and 82,897 men diagnosed before the pandemic (October 2018–March 2020). Prostate cancer diagnosis rates among younger men have decreased (X2=205.9, df=4, P<0.001). Treatment philosophies also changed. During the pandemic, men with advanced illnesses could get cutting-edge hormone treatments instead of chemotherapy. However, a greater number of males with advanced illnesses went untreated. Men with prostate cancer saw an increase in fatalities from any cause (26% during the pandemic vs. 7% before), which COVID-19 deaths could not explain.

In general, men with prostate cancer who went undiagnosed throughout the epidemic seem younger than those who were. Interventions in public health should thus concentrate on increasing knowledge among males under 75. The study’s overall finding was that COVID-19 altered prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment in ways that are expected to result in more late diagnoses, more prostate cancer fatalities, and a longer average life expectancy for men with prostate cancer. The work could contribute to the creation of public health initiatives to lessen this effect. Since it only  applied to England, replication in other nations would be necessary to fully comprehend COVID-19’s worldwide effects on men with prostate cancer.

Reference: annalsofoncology.org/article/S0923-7534(22)03349-X/fulltext