August 10, 2020

Delays in breast cancer surgery because of COVID-19 do not appear to be life-threatening

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

A longer time from diagnosis to surgical treatment because of the COVID-19 pandemic did not lower overall survival of women with early-stage breast cancer, this study finds.

In this analysis of 379,000 patients, surgical delays of more than 120 days were associated with change to a higher cancer stage in patients with the earliest form of breast cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), but not in those with cT1-2N0 (small invasive tumors that had not spread to lymph nodes).


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In estrogen receptor-positive DCIS and cT1-2N0 breast cancer patients who were treated with neoadjuvant endocrine therapy (NET), there were no survival differences associated with delays in surgery.

NET is usually given to patients whose cancer is fueled by estrogen after surgical removal of the breast. However, it was recommended nationwide as the initial treatment during COVID-19 pandemic-related surgical delays.

The findings show that because patients were put on NET, the delay in surgical treatment should not affect their survival, the researchers say.

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