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Journal:   IRANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF BREAST DISEASE   2021 , Volume 14 , Number 1 (52) ; Page(s) 7 To 10.

Editorial, Covid-19 And Breast Cancer

Author(s):  Haghighat Sh.*
* integrative Oncology and Quality of Life Department, Breast Cancer Research Center, Motamed Cancer Institute, ACECR, Tehran, Iran
The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected physical, mental, social, and economic aspects of people’ s lives worldwide over the last year. In the early days of the pandemic, major public health priorities changed toward mobilization of resources for the care of COVID-19 patients and the protection of health workers and patients from exposure to the disease. This significantly influenced all aspects of cancer control strategies including screening, diagnosis, treatment, and supportive care. The cancer guidelines developed during the pandemic insisted on the management of urgent cases, which would naturally result in a decrease in preventive visits, screening tests, follow-up of abnormal test results, and symptom follow-ups (1). It was estimated that breast and cervix cancer screening tests had decreased by up to 94% and that 285000 breast screening tests had been missed in the United States (2). In the chain of cancer management, delays in each step can change the outcome of the next step. A reduction in the number of screening tests could result in missing the cancer diagnosis or recurrence. Studies from different countries reflect a reduction in the number of diagnosed breast cancer cases, ranging from one-third in the Netherlands to 52% in the US (1, 3, 4). Therefore, lower survival probability, fewer treatment options, more intensive treatment, and poor prognosis, as consequences of late diagnosis, can be expected (1). During the COVID-19 pandemic, some breast cancer treatment guidelines were developed based on the multidisciplinary approach and regional health facilities. One of those guidelines suggests categorizing breast cancer patients into three priority levels. Priority category A consists of patients with an urgent situation that requires immediate treatment, such as breast abscess and post-operative patients with unstable clinical and oncologic conditions. This group profits from in-person visits. Patients in priority category B should be treated before the end of the pandemic. It includes newly diagnosed breast cancer cases and patients who have completed neoadjuvant therapy and should undergo surgery. Because of the non– life-threatening nature of the situation of the patients in this category, a delay of 6-12 weeks would not impact patient outcomes. Finally, patients at the priority level C can have their treatment postponed until the end of the pandemic, for example, those who would present for routine follow-up for benign or malignant conditions and survivorship visits (5). However, priorities may change based on the patient’ s situation or local health policies. Some breast cancer patients experience their survivorship during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected their economic, social, and psychological status. Survivors’ financial situation has changed, causing concerns about palliative care costs and insurance support. Patients had to stay at home, which has led to social isolation and psychological stress. A survey on cancer patients aimed to assess the impact of the pandemic on health care delivery was conducted by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. According to this survey, in which 52% of the participants were breast cancer survivors (6), access to supportive services during the pandemic, including physical therapy or mental health care, had decreased by 20% (1). Although the impact of COVID-19 on cancers may be more evident in the following years, an analysis of the effect of the pandemic on breast and colorectal cancer screening and treatment has predicted an increase of 1% (or 10000 deaths) in breast and colorectal deaths over the next decade (7). It is necessary to note that 60% of cancer research programs have also been postponed due to funding for the COVID-19 pandemic as a global priority (1). It is expected that the management of and research into breast cancer care in Iran, as one of the first countries affected by the pandemic, would have been disrupted, too. Unfortunately, no data is available regarding the impact of COVID-19 on different aspects of breast cancer in Iran. So, breast cancer burden control strategies should be considered a health policy priority through future programming and research. Iranian Journal Breast Diseases welcomes research articles, from different disciplines, that strive to shed light on the associations between the COVID-19 pandemic and various aspects of breast cancer (prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation). By giving priority to publishing these articles, we would hope to take positive steps toward addressing the gaps in the current knowledge and contribute to an improved health policy at a country level.
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APA: Copy

HAGHIGHAT, S. (2021). Editorial, COVID-19 and Breast Cancer. IRANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF BREAST DISEASE, 14(1 (52) ), 7-10.

Vancouver: Copy

HAGHIGHAT SH.. Editorial, COVID-19 and Breast Cancer. IRANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF BREAST DISEASE. 2021 [cited 2022January23];14(1 (52) ):7-10. Available from:

IEEE: Copy

HAGHIGHAT, S., 2021. Editorial, COVID-19 and Breast Cancer. IRANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF BREAST DISEASE, [online] 14(1 (52) ), pp.7-10. Available:

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