Background: This study compared patients undergoing colorectal cancer surgery in 20 hospitals of northern Italy in 2019 versus 2020, in order to evaluate whether COVID-19-related delays of colorectal cancer screening resulted in more advanced cancers at diagnosis and worse clinical outcomes. Method: This was a retrospective multicentre cohort analysis of patients undergoing colorectal cancer surgery in March to December 2019 versus March to December 2020. Independent predictors of disease stage (oncological stage, associated symptoms, clinical T4 stage, metastasis) and outcome (surgical complications, palliative surgery, 30-day death) were evaluated using logistic regression. Results: The sample consisted of 1755 patients operated in 2019, and 1481 in 2020 (both mean age 69.6 years). The proportion of cancers with symptoms, clinical T4 stage, liver and lung metastases in 2019 and 2020 were respectively: 80.8 versus 84.5 per cent; 6.2 versus 8.7 per cent; 10.2 versus 10.3 per cent; and 3.0 versus 4.4 per cent. The proportions of surgical complications, palliative surgery and death in 2019 and 2020 were, respectively: 34.4 versus 31.9 per cent; 5.0 versus 7.5 per cent; and 1.7 versus 2.4 per cent. Cancers in 2020 (versus 2019) were more likely to be symptomatic (odds ratio 1.36 (95 per cent c.i. 1.09 to 1.69)), clinical T4 stage (odds ratio 1.38 (95 per cent c.i. 1.03 to 1.85)) and have multiple liver metastases (odds ratio 2.21 (95 per cent c.i. 1.24 to 3.94)), but were not more likely to be associated with surgical complications (odds ratio 0.79 (95 per cent c.i. 0.68 to 0.93)). Conclusion: Colorectal cancer patients who had surgery between March and December 2020 had an increased risk of advanced disease in terms of associated symptoms, cancer location, clinical T4 stage and number of liver metastases.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberzrab139
JournalBJS open
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


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