Delayed Urological Cancer Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Urologists' Experience.
The arrival of coronavirus disrupted health care systems and forced delays in cancer treatment. We explored the experience of urologists who had to delay their patients’ cancer care.
Urologists who treat prostate, bladder, and renal cancers, selected through purposive sampling, responded to a survey about cancer treatment delay. They were asked about their practice setting, decision making and interactions with patients, and they were asked to reflect on their personal experience. A 0 to 10 point scale, modeled on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’ Distress Thermometer (NCCN-DT), validated for cancer patients with cancer, was used to estimate physician distress. We used descriptive statistics to analyze survey results.
Of the 64 participating urologists, 98% delayed surgical treatment; fewer delayed cases of advanced cancers (42% for ≥T3/T4 or Gleason ≥8 prostate cancers, 58% for muscle invasive bladder cancer, 61% for ≥T2 renal cancers). They reported feeling anxious (44%) and helpless (29%), and their median distress score was 5 (range 0–10). They relied on their own risk assessments (67%) and consulted colleagues (56%) and national guidelines (53%) when making treatment deferral decisions. They identified a number of concerns as they resumed surgeries.
Based on a comparison to the NCCN-DT clinical cutoff distress level of 4, urologists experienced moderately high levels of distress as they delayed cancer care during the COVID-19 pandemic and expressed concerns going forward. While the focus on patient care is paramount in a pandemic, it is important to recognize physician distress and develop practical and psychological strategies for distress mitigation.
Whittmann D, Faris A, Montie JE, Chisholm S, Duby A, O'Dell D, Sarle R, Johnston WK, Morgan TM, Hawley ST, An LC, Herrel LA. Delayed urological cancer care during the COVID-19 pandemic: urologists' experience. Urol Pract. 2021;8(3):367-372.