Clinicians are already seeing an increase in late-stage cancer diagnoses that they attribute to the pandemic-driven pause in cancer screening and treatment adherence, according to the results of a survey from the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).

ASTRO surveyed radiation oncology practice leaders in April, May, and June 2020 and January and February 2021 and found that more patients are receiving radiation therapy for advanced-stage disease today than before the pandemic. Specifically, the physicians reported a 66% increase in patients with more advanced disease, 73% increase in missed appointments, and 66% increase in treatment interruptions, despite all of the practices remaining open for patients throughout the entire pandemic period.

A total of 73% of the clinics reported a drop in patient volume, which averaged 21% lower across all of the practices. They attributed the declines to an 81% drop in the number of patients being referred for radiation therapy and a 75% increase in pandemic-related treatment delays.

Learn more about cancer screening and treatment during a pandemic on the Oncology Nursing Podcast Episode 118: CDC’s Perspective on Cancer Prevention, Treatment, and Care—Even During a Pandemic and Episode 122: NCI Director Shares Research and Innovation During COVID-19.