Global Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Gastric Cancer Treatment: findings from a global cross-sectional multicentre study (GLEOHUG-GC) (2022)

Type of publication:Conference abstract

Author(s):Herrera Kok J.H.; Viswanath Y.K.; Parmar C.; Bangash A.H.; Samaduv E.; Atici S.D.; Cheruvu C.V.; Abouelazayem M.; Yang W.; Galanis M.; Di Maggio F.; Isik A.; *Bandopyadaya S.; Mahawar K.

Citation:European Journal of Surgical Oncology; Feb 2022; vol. 48 (no. 2)

Abstract:Background: Gastric cancer (GC) is the 5th most common malignancy and remains one of the major causes of worldwide cancer-related deaths. COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the provision of cancer care. This study aims to overview the global standpoint of gastric cancer patients (GCP) during the first year of pandemic (PY1).
Material(s) and Method(s): The Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeons (TUGS), within its Global Level of Harm Project, designed an online cross-sectional survey to assess how GCP's management changed during PY1. The questionnaire included 33 questions about expertise, kind of health system, hospital organization and screening policies, personal protective equipment (PPE), change in patient's characteristics, preoperative, operative and postoperative management of GCP.Result(s): There were 209 answers from 178 centres (50 countries) around the world. Results of the survey showed: most hospitals (88,2%) had restricted areas for the management of COVID-19 patients; 53,6% of participants were redeployed; most frequent COVID-19 screening methods were PCR (78,8%) and chest CTscan (25,6%), and 55,9% thought there was a lack of PPE. Preoperative management: 43,2% decrease in the number of multidisciplinary teams (MDT) meetings; 28,4% increase in the number of cT2 or higher GCP; 34,7% increase in metastatic (M1) GCP; 26,8% increase in GCP receiving definitive palliative treatment; 23,7% increase in the number of frail patients; 50% increase in waiting list time (WLT); and 41,6% faced problems in the provision of oncological treatment. Operative management: 54,5% decrease in elective gastrectomies; 29,1% increase in the number of urgent/semi-urgent gastrectomies; 37% decrease in the number of minimally invasive gastrectomies (MIG); and 18,5% increase in the number of surgeries with palliative intent. Postoperative management: 16,5% increase in the overall complication rate (OCR); 12,6% increase in the number of Clavien-Dindo 3 or higher complications; 8% increase in the leak rate; increase in pulmonary infections (26,8%) and bowel obstruction (2,4%); 44,5% development of postoperative COVID-19 infection; 15,4% increase in 30-days mortality rate; 23,1% mortality due to COVID-19 infection; 17,6% increase in the need for adjuvant treatment. Most patients were postoperatively assessed either through a face to face consultation or a combination of face to face and remote consultation.
Conclusion(s): COVID-19 pandemic has affected GC management by decreased frequency of MDT's, higher clinical-stage migration and fuelled frailty. The pandemic increased WLT, the number of urgent and palliative surgeries, OCR, Clavien-Dindo 3 or higher complications, leak rate, and pulmonary infections. There was a noticeable high rate of postoperative COVID-19 infection and associated mortality. Further multicentric studies are warranted to affirm these findings.

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