Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the surgical treatment of gastric cancer

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OBJECTIVE: The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been recognized as one of the most serious public health crises. This study aimed to evaluate the short-term impact of the pandemic on the surgical treatment of patients with gastric cancer (GC) in addition to their clinicopathological characteristics. We also verified adherence to the COVID-19 screening protocol adopted in the institution. METHODS: All patients with GC who underwent surgical treatment between 2015 and 2021 were retros-pectively evaluated and divided into two groups according to the time period: control group (2015–2019) and COVID group (2020–2021). The institutional protocol recommends that patients referred for surgery undergo RT-PCR for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection. RESULTS: A total of 83 patients were classified into the COVID group and 535 into the control group. The number of surgical procedures performed in the control group was 107 (SD±23.8) per year. Diagnostic procedures (p=0.005), preoperative chemotherapy (po0.001), and adenocarcinomas without Lauren’s subtype (p=0.009) were more frequent in the COVID group than in the control group. No significant difference was observed in the pathological characteristics and surgical outcomes of curative GC between the two groups. Evaluation of protocol compliance showed that of 83 patients with GC in the COVID group, 19 (22.9%) were not tested for COVID-19 before surgery. Two patients tested positive for COVID-19 (one preoperative and one postoperative). CONCLUSION: A decrease in the average number of surgeries and a higher frequency of diagnostic procedures occurred during the pandemic than in the previous time period. Tumor/node/metastasis classification, morbidity rates, and mortality rates in patients with GC during the pandemic did not differ from those in the previous time period. Accordingly, GC surgical treatment with acceptable screening protocol compliance could be safely performed during the COVID-19 pandemic.




Arneiro, A. J., Ramos, M. F. K. P., Pereira, M. A., Dias, A. R., Zilberstein, B., Junior, U. R., & Nahas, S. C. (2021). Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the surgical treatment of gastric cancer. Clinics, 76.

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