Patients present with later stage melanoma during COVID-19 pandemic
Many melanoma patients presented with more advanced disease during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a small study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Researchers conducted a retrospective analysis on melanoma staging in 246 patients evaluated at one care center between the start of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 11, 2020, and Jan. 12, 2021. These patients were compared with 246 patients evaluated between March 1, 2019, and March 10, 2020.
Of those in the pre-pandemic group, 209 (85%) presented with early-stage disease, while 37 (15%) presented with metastatic disease. In the post-pandemic group, 200 (81.3%) had early-stage disease at presentation, while 46 (18.7%) had metastatic disease.
A significant decrease in stage I disease presentation occurred during the post-pandemic group (28.5% vs 40.7%; P = .006), while a significant increase in stage III presentation occurred (30.5% vs 21.1%; P = .023).
Metastatic recurrence was also significantly increased in the post-pandemic group compared with the pre-pandemic group (7.7% vs 3.3%; P = .046), and the median time to recurrence was 60 months compared with 25.5 months.
Targeted therapy was more likely in patients in the post-COVID group, while immunotherapy was more likely in the pre-group.
“These findings suggest that patients had delays in coming to medical attention, likely resulting in more advanced disease,” Saba S. Shaikh, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Hillman Cancer Center, and colleagues wrote. “These data underscore the importance of early detection and oncology referral for patients with melanoma, even during the pandemic.”