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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 467-474

The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the practice of radiotherapy: A retrospective single-institution study

Department of Radiotherapy, Mahavir Cancer Sansthan, Patna, Bihar, India

Correspondence Address:
Richa Chauhan
House No. N/35, Prof. Colony, Kankarbagh, Patna - 800 020, Bihar
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/CRST.CRST_255_20

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Background: The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 led to the imposition of a nationwide lockdown as a control measure, which in turn disrupted the diagnosis and treatment of other diseases including cancer. Objectives: The primary objective of this study was to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on patients receiving radiotherapy and whether it correlated with the patients' age, gender, site of disease, and intent of radiotherapy. The secondary objective was to assess the compliance to radiotherapy and the treatment modifications, if any. Materials and Methods: This is a retrospective analysis of all patients planned for radiotherapy at the Mahavir Cancer Sansthan, a tertiary cancer center, in Patna, India from January 1, 2020, to May 31, 2020. The study cohort was divided into two groups: Group A comprised patients who received radiotherapy in the period before the lockdown and Group B comprised patients who received radiotherapy during the lockdown. Data regarding the age, gender, site of disease, intent of treatment, completion of planned treatment, use of concurrent chemotherapy, and modifications of the radiation protocol, if any, were analyzed. The categorical variables were compared using the Chi-square test. Results: A total of 1412 patients were planned for radiotherapy during the study period. Of these, 1020 patients, 759 in Group A and 261 in Group B, actually received radiotherapy during the entire study period. The proportion of female patients decreased by 10.5% and that of patients receiving palliative intent radiotherapy increased by 12% during the lockdown. Head and neck, gynecological, and breast cancers were the most common cancer types in both the periods. There was no significant difference in the compliance to radiotherapy between the two groups (88.2% in Group A and 90.8% in Group B). Similar protocols were used during both the periods in patients being treated with a curative intent, but there was a significant increase in the use of single fraction radiation treatment in patients being treated with palliative intent with conventional fields. Conclusions: There was a sharp decline in the number of patients, especially women, during the lockdown. The number of patients being treated with palliative intent increased significantly, with an increased use of single-fraction radiation treatment.

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