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Effects of COVID-19 Lockdown on Melanoma Diagnosis in Switzerland: Increased Tumor Thickness in Elderly Females and Shift towards Stage IV Melanoma during Lockdown


Kostner, Lisa; Cerminara, Sara Elisa; Pamplona, Gustavo Santo Pedro; Maul, Julia-Tatjana; Dummer, Reinhard; Ramelyte, Egle; Mangana, Johanna; Wagner, Nikolaus Benjamin; Cozzio, Antonio; Kreiter, Saskia; Kogler, Angelika; Streit, Markus; Wysocki, Anja; Zippelius, Alfred; Läubli, Heinz; Navarini, Alexander Andreas; Maul, Lara Valeska (2022). Effects of COVID-19 Lockdown on Melanoma Diagnosis in Switzerland: Increased Tumor Thickness in Elderly Females and Shift towards Stage IV Melanoma during Lockdown. Cancers, 14(10):2360.

Abstract

At the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, Switzerland was among the countries with the highest number of SARS-CoV2-infections per capita in the world. Lockdowns had a remarkable impact on primary care access and resulted in postponed cancer screenings. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on the diagnosis of melanomas and stage of melanomas at diagnosis. In this retrospective, exploratory cohort study, 1240 patients with a new diagnosis of melanoma were analyzed at five tertiary care hospitals in German-speaking Switzerland over a period of two years and three months. We compared the pre-lockdown (01/FEB/19–15/MAR/20, n = 655) with the lockdown (16/MAR/20–22/JUN/20, n = 148) and post-lockdown period (23/JUN/20–30/APR/21, n = 437) by evaluating patients’ demographics and prognostic features using Breslow thickness, ulceration, subtype, and stages. We observed a short-term, two-week rise in melanoma diagnoses after the major lift of social lockdown restrictions. The difference of mean Breslow thicknesses was significantly greater in older females during the lockdown compared to the pre-lockdown (1.9 ± 1.3 mm, p = 0.03) and post-lockdown period (1.9 ± 1.3 mm, p = 0.048). Thickness increase was driven by nodular melanomas (2.9 ± 1.3 mm, p = 0.0021; resp. 2.6 ± 1.3 mm, p = 0.008). A proportional rise of advanced melanomas was observed during lockdown (p = 0.047). The findings provide clinically relevant insights into lockdown-related gender- and age-dependent effects on melanoma diagnosis. Our data highlight a stable course in new melanomas with a lower-than-expected increase in the post-lockdown period. The lockdown period led to a greater thickness in elderly women driven by nodular melanomas and a proportional shift towards stage IV melanoma. We intend to raise awareness for individual cancer care in future pandemic management strategies.

Abstract

At the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, Switzerland was among the countries with the highest number of SARS-CoV2-infections per capita in the world. Lockdowns had a remarkable impact on primary care access and resulted in postponed cancer screenings. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on the diagnosis of melanomas and stage of melanomas at diagnosis. In this retrospective, exploratory cohort study, 1240 patients with a new diagnosis of melanoma were analyzed at five tertiary care hospitals in German-speaking Switzerland over a period of two years and three months. We compared the pre-lockdown (01/FEB/19–15/MAR/20, n = 655) with the lockdown (16/MAR/20–22/JUN/20, n = 148) and post-lockdown period (23/JUN/20–30/APR/21, n = 437) by evaluating patients’ demographics and prognostic features using Breslow thickness, ulceration, subtype, and stages. We observed a short-term, two-week rise in melanoma diagnoses after the major lift of social lockdown restrictions. The difference of mean Breslow thicknesses was significantly greater in older females during the lockdown compared to the pre-lockdown (1.9 ± 1.3 mm, p = 0.03) and post-lockdown period (1.9 ± 1.3 mm, p = 0.048). Thickness increase was driven by nodular melanomas (2.9 ± 1.3 mm, p = 0.0021; resp. 2.6 ± 1.3 mm, p = 0.008). A proportional rise of advanced melanomas was observed during lockdown (p = 0.047). The findings provide clinically relevant insights into lockdown-related gender- and age-dependent effects on melanoma diagnosis. Our data highlight a stable course in new melanomas with a lower-than-expected increase in the post-lockdown period. The lockdown period led to a greater thickness in elderly women driven by nodular melanomas and a proportional shift towards stage IV melanoma. We intend to raise awareness for individual cancer care in future pandemic management strategies.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Dermatology Clinic
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Oncology
Life Sciences > Cancer Research
Uncontrolled Keywords:Cancer Research, Oncology
Language:English
Date:10 May 2022
Deposited On:09 Aug 2022 12:48
Last Modified:27 Jun 2024 01:38
Publisher:MDPI Publishing
ISSN:2072-6694
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers14102360
PubMed ID:35625961
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)