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Lectures

Questions and answers

6 May 2021

What are the consequences of COVID-19 for cancer screening?

What challenges have been encountered by countries?

What could be turned into an opportunity, and what lessons have been learned?

Are there common answers to these questions for low-income and high-income countries? Could the lessons learned help countries to “build back better”?

In addition to the direct burden of the pandemic, how could health systems cope with the “health-care debt”? This is the increase in demand for health care that is anticipated when the population currently waiting for the pandemic to be over before seeking (or accessing) health-care services will finally do so.

The webinar addresses these questions and provides examples from both low-income and high-income countries.

CHAIR

Dr Iacopo Baussano

Scientist, Early Detection, Prevention, and Infections Branch

International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France

About Dr Iacopo Baussano

SPEAKERS

COVID-19: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR CANCER SCREENING. AN EXAMPLE FROM CERVICAL CANCER IN SWEDEN

Professor Joakim Dillner

Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology | Director of Research and Development

Karolinska Institutet | Karolinska University Hospital, Sweden

During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, cervical screening was largely cancelled in Sweden; for example, in the city of Stockholm, 192 000 cervical screening appointments were cancelled during 2020. When screening was restarted, organized screening stations were not used, for fear of crowding among women waiting to be screened. Sweden had decided in 2015 to use human papillomavirus (HPV) screening, but large parts of the country were still not using it in 2020. Self-sampling had been recommended even earlier, but it was used even less. To cope with the situation, HPV-based screening using self-sampling at home was now introduced for women of all ages, and the parliament decided to eliminate cervical cancer faster by offering concomitant HPV screening and HPV vaccination. Because HPV-negative and HPV-vaccinated women have low risk, the need for screening will be lower, thus improving the ability to cope with the situation. Therefore, the severe crisis of the screening programme brought about by the pandemic actually precipitated a rapid modernization of the cervical cancer control programme.

LEVERAGING THE VERTICAL INVESTMENTS MADE TO CONTAIN COVID-19 TO IMPROVE CANCER SCREENING IN LOW- AND MIDDLE-INCOME COUNTRIES

Dr Partha Basu

Deputy Head, Early Detection, Prevention, and Infections Branch

International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France

The pandemic-induced lockdowns and movement restrictions, slowing down of non-emergency services, and reallocation of resources have deeply impacted the entire continuum of cancer care, including cancer screening. The fragile health systems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) were already struggling to deliver quality-assured cancer screening; the post-pandemic health crisis made the situation worse. However, there are a few silver linings. Screening programmes in LMICs can reap the benefits of the vertical investments made to contain the pandemic. Some examples are using the improved disease surveillance system to build an electronic screening register, assigning the virological test platforms for mass-scale human papillomavirus (HPV) testing, and using the health applications on mobile phones to deliver screening test reports or track screen-positive individuals.

About Dr Partha Basu

CONTENT


Developed with the support of and in collaboration with the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO).

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