Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Radiotherapy Patients by Age and Residence

Goran Kolarevic


Background/Aim: This epidemiology study aimed to investigate how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the weekly number of external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) fractions concerning patient age and residence distance from our radiotherapy center (RTC). Methods: Twenty-two-month intervals before and after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic were compared. Results: The average weekly number of fractions from May 2018 to February 2020 was 692.8 (SD 67.6), and from March 2020 to December 2021 was 639.3. (SD 84.7). The weekly number of fractions decreased by 42.4 % in March 2021 and by 67.9 % in April 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. When comparing patients under 70 years of age to those over 70, the decrease was 28.0 % vs. 6.9 %, respectively. According to the Wilcoxon signed-rank test (Z = - 5.2, p = 0.001), the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic had a statistically significant impact on the decrease in the weekly number of fractions. The distance between the city of residence and the RTC was not a significant factor but years of life (more than 70) was. Conclusion: During the "waves" of the pandemic, radiation therapy (RT) was not administered to specific groups of cancer patients eligible for it because other medical departments for oncology patients were closed.




coronavirus disease 2019, hospital patients, external beam radiotherapy, age group, residency.

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DOI: 10.5457/ams.v53i1.661