Breast cancer surgery delays caused by COVID-19 could cause 3,000 additional deaths

Delays in treatment place patients at higher risk of metastasis, increasing cost of care by more than $375 million.
17 November 2020
Breast cancer deaths due to COVID-19 delays
Jeremy Brody
Jeremy
Brody

Chief Strategy Officer, Israel

Otavio Clark
Otavio
Clark

Vice President, Oncology, Brazil

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Delays in breast cancer surgery due to the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to an additional 2,797 deaths over the next decade according to Kantar Health. Delays in treatments could result in an additional $376 million in treatment costs over that time period due to more patients developing metastasis. The analysis, released as part of World Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is based on Kantar Health’s CancerMPact® Patient Metrics database, a decision support resource for oncology market analysis, strategic planning and identifying commercial opportunities.

Research from the American Association of Cancer Research found that 32% of those who were diagnosed with breast cancer reported a delay in care. Of these patients, 22% reported a delay in screening and 9.3% reported a delay in treatment. 

Kantar Health’s CancerMPact Patient Metrics database1 estimates the incidence of breast cancer in the United States in 2020 to be 335,779. Of those, 319,700 patients will be diagnosed with non-metastatic disease. If these patients with non-metastatic disease receive appropriate and timely care, they have good potential for a positive outcome. However, delays in care, especially surgery, compromises this. For breast cancer, a delay in surgery of 60 days is estimated to cause an increase in the number of deaths of 4% and 7% at five and ten years post-diagnosis respectively2.

Based on Kantar Health’s estimates of the total annual number of new cancer patients, it is expected that the number of patients diagnosed with non-metastatic during the first three months of the pandemic totaled 79,925 patients. 

Of these patients, Kantar Health forecasts that deaths among breast cancer patients could increase by 1,598 deaths five years post-diagnosis and 2,797 deaths ten years post-diagnosis.

Further, Kantar Health expects an excess in the overall costs of cancer treatment due to COVID-19, as a proportion of patients will develop metastasis over the course of their disease. In the five years post-COVID-19, additional costs will total $215.2 million for breast cancer patients. In ten years, this number could almost double, to $376.7 million for breast cancer care. 

The effects of the pandemic will be felt deeply in many disease areas, but none more so than in oncology. It is important that patients continue to maintain their regular appointments and screenings to detect and treat breast cancer. The COVID-19 global pandemic needs to be a catalyst for the healthcare system to seek new ways to reach patients and ensure early detection screenings continue

Reference Notes: 1. CancerMPact Patient Metrics Database [Internet]. Kantar Health. 2020 [cited May, 2020]. Available from: www.cancermpact.com. 2. Bleicher RJ, Ruth K, Sigurdson ER, Beck JR, Ross E, Wong YN, et al. Time to Surgery and Breast Cancer Survival in the United States. JAMA oncology. 2016;2(3):330-9.

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