Differences in the Impact of COVID-19 on Pathology Laboratories and Cancer Diagnosis in Girona

Introduction: The recent COVID-19 pandemic has compromised socio-health care, with consequences for the diagnosis and follow-up of other pathologies. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on cancer diagnosis in Girona, Spain. Methodology: Observational study of samples received in two pathology laboratories during 2019–2020 (tertiary hospital in Girona and county hospital in Figueres). Date, sample type, and location and morphology were available. Samples were recoded to determine malignancy and grouped by location. Comparisons were made by calendar year and period of exposure to COVID-19. Results: 102,360 samples were included: 80,517 from Girona and 21,843 from Figueres. The reduction in activity in the pathology laboratories in 2020 compared to the previous year was 25.4% in Girona and 27.5% in Figueres. The reduction in cancer diagnoses in 2020 compared to 2019 was 6.8% in Girona and 21% in Figueres. In both laboratories, a decrease was observed in the diagnoses of neoplasms of the lip, oral cavity and pharynx, larynx, colon, rectum and anus, kidney and urinary system, melanoma, and central nervous system. A statistically significant higher probability of a sample received in the pathology laboratory displaying malignancy during COVID-19 was found (Girona: OR = 1.28, 95% CI: 1.23–1.34; Figueres: OR = 1.10, 95% CI: 1.01–1.20) with respect to the COVID-19-free period. Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a reduction in cancer diagnoses by pathology departments that varies according to tumor location and type of hospital. Despite this, the optimization of care resources and the recovery effort have partially reduced the impact of the pandemic in certain neoplasms ​
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