Impact of COVID-19 on colorectal cancer disparities and the way forward

Post written by Sophie Balzora, MD, from the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, NYU Langone Health, New York, New York, USA.

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Our perspective piece identifies areas of colorectal cancer screening and prevention efforts targeted toward medically underserved populations most impacted amid the COVID-19 pandemic and envisions potential solutions to mitigate the deleterious effects of the pandemic on these efforts.

COVID-19 transmission and mortality disproportionately affects Black, Hispanic, and Native American populations. Colorectal cancer (CRC) too is wrought with disparities in screening, incidence, and mortality rates among these very same populations. It was imperative to raise awareness about the foreseeable consequence of the collateral damage emanating from this pandemic, declared as such during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month–as and when appropriate, colorectal cancer awareness and prevention efforts will need even more attention and tailored solutions to avoid further disparities of this highly preventable cancer.  

We detail the ways in which COVID-19 has impacted areas of colorectal cancer screening and prevention that have specifically worked to address CRC disparities among the medically underserved: colorectal cancer screening participation; follow-up after abnormal non-invasive screening; CRC-related research activities; and engagement, advocacy, and policy. Next steps include pathways to dampen the loss of any successes we have already reaped from these efforts and safeguards to help prevent any further setbacks due to the necessary reallocation of resources toward the COVID-19 pandemic. We must remember that CRC still exists, and that it is the second leading cause of cancer mortality in the U.S. among men and women. As we envision our nation slowly clawing our way out of the deepest threats of the pandemic, we must come back to these strategies so that the decades’ hard work of closing the disparity gap in colorectal cancer screening, incidence, and mortality is not completely lost.

Balzora

Read the full article online.

The information presented in Endoscopedia reflects the opinions of the authors and does not represent the position of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE). ASGE expressly disclaims any warranties or guarantees, expressed or implied, and is not liable for damages of any kind in connection with the material, information, or procedures set forth.

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