The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the diagnosis of gastric, esophageal, or gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer but did not impact survival in a single-center study. 

These findings were presented in a poster at the 2023 ASCO Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium.

The retrospective study included data from 308 patients with esophageal, GEJ, or gastric cancer who received treatment with curative intent from January 2017 to December 2021.

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In the period before the COVID-19 pandemic began, the median time from symptom onset to diagnosis was 92 days. This increased to a median of 126 days during the pandemic (P =.007). 

Patient age at diagnosis was higher during the pandemic period as well, at a median of 69.6 years, compared with 64.7 years prior to the pandemic (P =.002).

There was no significant difference in disease stage before and during the pandemic (P =.48), but more grade 2 and unknown-grade tumors were present during the pandemic (P =.04). 

There was no difference in time from diagnosis to treatment, which was a median of 1.7 weeks both prior to and during the pandemic (P =.58). The median time to surgery was similar before and during the pandemic — 4.2 weeks and 4.1 weeks, respectively (P =.54).

Survival outcomes were similar before and during the pandemic as well (P =.489). In a multivariable analysis, there was no association between delayed diagnosis and overall survival (hazard ratio, 1.00; 95% CI, 1.00-1.00; P =.16). 

Disclosures: Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of disclosures.


Wang X, Espin-Garcia O, Bach Y, et al. Pre-diagnostic delay among patients with curative esophageal and gastric cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic. ASCO GI 2023. January 19-21, 2023. Abstract 302.