Copyright ©The Author(s) 2021. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Gastrointest Oncol. Apr 15, 2021; 13(4): 238-251
Published online Apr 15, 2021. doi: 10.4251/wjgo.v13.i4.238
Colorectal cancer screening in the COVID-19 era
Anusri Kadakuntla, Tiffany Wang, Karen Medgyesy, Enxhi Rrapi, James Litynski, Gillian Adynski, Micheal Tadros
Anusri Kadakuntla, Tiffany Wang, Karen Medgyesy, Enxhi Rrapi, Albany Medical College, Albany Medical College, Albany, NY 12208, United States
James Litynski, Micheal Tadros, Division of Gastroenterology, Albany Medical Center, Albany, NY 12208, United States
Gillian Adynski, National Clinician Scholars Program, Duke University School of Nursing, Durham, NC 27710, United States
Author contributions: Kadakuntla A, Wang T, Medgyesy K, Rrapi E wrote the paper; Kadakuntla A and Wang T contributed to the figures and tables; Kadakuntla A, Litynski J, Adynski G and Tadros M made critical revisions; Tadros M approved final version of manuscript to be published.
Conflict-of-interest statement: The authors disclose no conflicts of interest or external funding for this publication.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Corresponding author: Micheal Tadros, FACG, MD, Associate Professor, Doctor, Division of Gastroenterology, Albany Medical Center, 43 New Scotland Avenue, Albany, NY 12208, United States.
Received: January 21, 2021
Peer-review started: January 21, 2021
First decision: March 8, 2021
Revised: March 10, 2021
Accepted: March 25, 2021
Article in press: March 25, 2021
Published online: April 15, 2021

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most diagnosed form of cancer and second most deadly cancer worldwide. Introduction of better screening has improved both incidence and mortality. However, as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic began, healthcare resources were shunted away from cancer screening services resulting in a sharp decrease in CRC screening and a backlog of patients awaiting screening tests. This may have significant effects on CRC cancer mortality, as delayed screening may lead to advanced cancer at diagnosis. Strategies to overcome COVID-19 related disruption include utilizing stool-based cancer tests, developing screening protocols based on individual risk factors, expanding telehealth, and increasing open access colonoscopies. In this review, we will summarize the effects of COVID-19 on CRC screening, the potential long-outcomes, and ways to adapt CRC screening during this global pandemic.

Keywords: Colorectal cancer, COVID-19, Colonoscopy, Early detection of cancer, Diagnostic screening programs, Mass screening

Core Tip: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has resulted in a major decrease in colorectal cancer (CRC) screening and will likely have significant long-term effects on CRC incidence and mortality. This review discusses the effects of COVID-19 on CRC screening and the outcomes that will likely result. We then review different options to ensure safe and convenient resumption of CRC screening in the midst of this pandemic.