Diagnosis, treatment, and outcome of patients with oesophagogastric cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic: national study

Mark A. Baxter, Khurram S. Khan (Lead / Corresponding author), Lewis S. Gall, Catherine Samuelson, Catherine McCollum, Rongkagorn Chuntamongkol, Lakshmi R. Narramneni, Manaf Al-Zuabi, Gavin Bryce, Hala E. J. Shareef, Matthew Forshaw, Russell D. Petty

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Background: The national response to COVID-19 has had a significant impact on cancer services. This study investigated the effect of national lockdown on diagnosis, management, and outcomes of patients with oesophagogastric cancers in Scotland.

Methods: This retrospective cohort study included consecutive new patients presenting to regional oesophagogastric cancer multidisciplinary teams in National Health Service Scotland between October 2019 and September 2020. The study interval was divided into before and after lockdown, based on the first UK national lockdown. Electronic health records were reviewed and results compared.

Results: Some 958 patients with biopsy-proven oesophagogastric cancer in 3 cancer networks were included: 506 (52.8 per cent) before and 452 (47.2 per cent) after lockdown. Median age was 72 (range 25-95) years and 630 patients (65.7 per cent) were men. There were 693 oesophageal (72.3 per cent) and 265 gastric (27.7 per cent) cancers. Median time to gastroscopy was 15 (range 0-337) days before versus 19 (0-261) days after lockdown (P < 0.001). Patients were more likely to present as an emergency after lockdown (8.5 per cent before versus 12.4 per cent after lockdown; P = 0.005), had poorer Eastern Cooperative Oncology group performance status, were more symptomatic, and presented with a higher stage of disease (stage IV: 49.8 per cent before versus 58.8 per cent after lockdown; P = 0.04). There was a shift to treatment with non-curative intent (64.6 per cent before versus 77.4 per cent after lockdown; P < 0.001). Median overall survival was 9.9 (95 per cent c.i. 8.7 to 11.4) months before and 6.9 (5.9 to 8.3) months after lockdown (HR 1.26, 95 per cent c.i. 1.09 to 1.46; P = 0.002).

Conclusion: This national study has highlighted the adverse impact of COVID-19 on oesophagogastric cancer outcomes in Scotland. Patients presented with more advanced disease and a shift towards treatment with non-curative intent was observed, with a subsequent negative impact on overall survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)456-461
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Surgery
Issue number4
Early online date22 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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