Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci 2022; 26 (1): 284-290

DOI: 10.26355/eurrev_202201_27779

The COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences for the diagnosis and therapy of head and neck malignancies

M. Balk, R. Rupp, A.V. Craveiro, M. Allner, P. Grundtner, M. Eckstein, M. Hecht, H. Iro, A.-O. Gostian

Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Comprehensive Cancer Center Erlangen-Europäische Metropolregion Nürnberg, Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany


OBJECTIVE: The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures accompanying it have been accused of having a negative influence on the frequency and methods of treatment of various diseases including head and neck cancer (HNSCC). To go further into this assumption, the diagnoses made, and treatments performed at one of Germany’s largest head and neck cancer centres were evaluated.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: This study consisted of one single centre and involved a retrospective review of all patients with newly diagnosed or recurrent HNSCC. The diagnosis and treatment methods used in the pre-COVID-19 time period between March 1st, 2019, and March 1st, 2020, were analysed and compared with the COVID-19 time period from April 1st, 2020, until April 1st, 2021. The primary objective was defined as the number of malignant diagnoses and the secondary objectives as the disease stage and the time to therapy.

RESULTS: A total of 612 patients (160♀; mean 63 yrs.) were included. 319 patients (52%) were treated in the pre-COVID-19 time. The two groups did not differ in terms of age (p=0.304), gender (p=0.941), presence of recurrent disease (p=0.866), tumour subsite (p=0.194) or the duration from presentation to the multidisciplinary tumour board until start of therapy (p=0.202). There were no significant differences in the T stage (p=0.777), N stage (p=0.067) or UICC stage (p=0.922). During the pre-COVID-19 period more patients presented with distant metastases (n= 23 vs. n=8; p=0.011).

CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that there was no significant change in either the number and severity of HNSCC diagnoses or the time until start of therapy at this large head and neck cancer centre as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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To cite this article

M. Balk, R. Rupp, A.V. Craveiro, M. Allner, P. Grundtner, M. Eckstein, M. Hecht, H. Iro, A.-O. Gostian
The COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences for the diagnosis and therapy of head and neck malignancies

Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci
Year: 2022
Vol. 26 - N. 1
Pages: 284-290
DOI: 10.26355/eurrev_202201_27779