Referral pattern for urologic malignancies before and during the COVID-19 pandemic

Urol Oncol. 2021 May;39(5):268-276. doi: 10.1016/j.urolonc.2020.11.027. Epub 2020 Dec 8.


Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has required significant restructuring of healthcare with conservation of resources and maintaining social distancing standards. With these new initiatives, it is conceivable that the diagnosis of cancer care may be delayed. We aimed to evaluate differences in patient populations being evaluated for cancer before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods and materials: We performed a retrospective review of our electronic medical record and examined patient characteristics of those presenting for a possible new cancer diagnosis to our urologic oncology clinic. Data was analyzed using logistic and linear regression models.

Results: During the 3-month period before the COVID-19 pandemic began, 585 new patients were seen in one urologic oncology practice. The following 3-month period, during the COVID-19 pandemic, 362 patients were seen, corresponding to a 38% decline. Visits per week increased to pre-COVID-19 levels for kidney and bladder cancer as the county entered the green phase. Prostate cancer visits per week remained below pre-COVID-19 levels in the green phase. When the 2 populations pre-COVID-19 and COVID-19 were compared, there were no notable differences on regression analysis.

Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic decreased the total volume of new patient referrals for possible genitourinary cancer diagnoses. The impact this will have on cancer survival remains to be determined.

Keywords: Coronavirus disease 2019; Delayed diagnosis; Genitourinary cancer; Health services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology / methods*
  • Medical Oncology / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2 / isolation & purification*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / physiology
  • Urogenital Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Urogenital Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Urologic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Urologic Neoplasms / therapy*