COVID-19 pandemic impacted on screening and care of patients with rare hereditary cancers

August 2022 ASCO 2022 Nalinee Pandey
Genetic engineering concept. Medical science. Scientific Laboratory.

According to a poster presented by American researchers at the ASCO Annual meeting, screening and care of patients with rare hereditary cancers such as paraganglioma and pheochromocytoma was disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although paragangliomas and pheochromocytoma are mainly hereditary (40%) cancers, their overall prevalence is quite rare. Therefore, the affected individuals need to visit specialised centres for their overall care. Due to COVID-19, many restrictions were in place and thus may have impacted the quality of care of such patients.  The American researchers have analysed the impact of COVID restrictions on the quality of care provided to such patients.

The researchers analysed data from four different centres (n=241) of patients with a history of or hereditary risk for paraganglioma or pheochromocytoma. Among these patients, 39 (19.2%) missed doctor’s appointments, 31 (15.3%) reported missing imaging, and 33 (16.3%) said missing lab tests. There was a correlation between all the three. Patients missing imaging were twice likely to miss lab tests (OR=1.8; P <0.01) and more likely to miss doctor’s appointments as well (OR = 1.25; < .01). Missing physicians visit was related to an increase in age (= .02; OR = 1.002 per 1-year increase in age). However, other parameters such as mutational status, sex and history of tumours did not imp the data.

Presenter Samantha Greenberg said, “This suggests that these patients may have just fallen off completely and maybe patients we need to get back into our system. Provider outreach and re-engagement with these populations — not just for hereditary paraganglioma or rare tumours but also likely for other hereditary cancer syndromes or for patients who often have to travel for speciality care — means that we probably have some work to do in increasing outreach and re-engagement to bring these patients back up to speed and up to the screening and care they need.”


Greenberg S, et al. Poster 10613. Presented at: ASCO Annual Meeting; June 3-7, 2022; Chicago.