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Symposium: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer outcomes

Join eLife authors for an online symposium on April 17 as they showcase their research from our recent Special Issue.

This online symposium, hosted by eLife Deputy Editor, Diane Harper, and eLife Senior Editor, Eduardo Franco, will feature authors presenting key findings from their research on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer outcomes.

The COVID-19 pandemic had an adverse impact on multiple public health fronts. Proper cancer prevention, control, care and post-cancer survivorship rely on the critical importance of maintaining preventive programs, screening, early diagnosis, treatment and monitoring for recurrence. These interventions were affected by interruptions and delays caused by the pandemic.

All research being presented in the symposium is showcased in our recent Special Issue on this topic.

A short Q&A follows each author presentation.

Join us on Wednesday, April 17 at 3pm BST | 10am EDT | 2pm UTC
(when is this in my time zone?)


Closed captions will be enabled on Zoom. Please email if you have any further accessibility requirements.

eLife is committed to providing a safe and welcoming experience for everyone. Please take a few minutes to familiarise yourself with our Code of Conduct – all event attendees are expected to abide by it.


Diane Harper
University of Michigan, United States
eLife Deputy Editor

Eduardo Franco
McGill University, Canada
eLife Senior Editor


Irene Man
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC/WHO)

Building resilient cervical cancer prevention through gender-neutral HPV vaccination: a modelling study
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted HPV vaccination programmes worldwide. Using India as a study case, we investigate through model-based projections how shifting from a girls-only (GO) to a gender-neutral (GN) vaccination strategy could improve the resilience of cervical cancer prevention against disruption of HPV vaccination, as well as accelerate the progress towards cervical cancer elimination.

Tina Bech Olesen
The Danish Clinical Quality Program – National Clinical Registries (RKKP)

Nation-wide participation in cancer screening in Denmark during the COVID-19 pandemic
Denmark was one of the few countries worldwide to keep the cancer screening programmes open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We examined the participation in cervical, breast and colorectal cancer screening during the pandemic compared with the previous years.
We included all individuals invited to participate in cancer screening from 2015 to 2021 as registered in the Cervical Cancer Screening Database, the Danish Quality Database for Mammography Screening and the Danish Colorectal Cancer Screening Database combined with population-wide registries. Using a generalised linear model, we estimated prevalence ratios and 95% confidence intervals of cancer screening participation within 90, 180, and 365 days since invitation during the pandemic compared with the previous years overall and by socio-economic groups.
A decrease in participation in all three screening programmes was observed at the start of the pandemic; however, with longer follow-up time most individuals resumed screening. Nonetheless, the participation diverged by socio-economic groups.

Mariam El-Zein
Division of Cancer Epidemiology, McGill University

Highlights from the pan-Canadian survey among healthcare professionals on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cervical cancer screening and management
The presentation will describe the 1) survey development process, 2) summarize healthcare professionals' assessment of the impact of the pandemic on cervical cancer screening and follow-up, and 3) discuss the implications on screening and management processes.

Taulant Muka
Epistudia, Bern, Switzerland

Navigating the COVID-19 Crisis: The effects on Cancer Prevention, Management, and Patient Care
The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a reconfiguration of healthcare resources, potentially disrupting cancer care. To assess this impact, we conducted an umbrella review summarizing findings from systematic reviews up to November 29th, 2022. Fifty-one reviews were analyzed, primarily based on observational studies with varying biases. While treatment modifications during the pandemic were evident, evidence quality was generally low. Delays and cancellations in cancer treatment, screening, and diagnosis were observed, particularly in low- and middle-income countries and those under lockdown. Telemedicine saw increased use, yet its utility, implementation challenges, and cost-effectiveness in cancer care were underexplored. Psychosocial well-being deteriorated among cancer patients, accompanied by financial distress. However, comparisons to pre-pandemic levels were limited. The impact of disrupted cancer care on prognosis was underexamined. Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic exerted a significant but diverse effect on cancer care, warranting further investigation and strategic response.


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