The impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection on the surgical management of colorectal cancer: lessons learned from a multicenter study in Spain
Objective: the aim of the study was to analyze the management of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients diagnosed with CRC or undergoing elective surgery during the period of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Material and methods: a multicenter ambispective analysis was performed in nine centers in Spain during a four-month period. Data were collected from every patient, including changes in treatments, referrals or delays in surgeries, changes in surgical approaches, postoperative outcomes and perioperative SARS-CoV-2 status. The hospital's response to the outbreak and available resources were categorized, and outcomes were divided into periods based on the timeline of the pandemic. Results: a total of 301 patients were included by the study centers and 259 (86 %) underwent surgery. Five hospitals went into phase III during the peak of incidence period, one remained in phase II and three in phase I. More than 60 % of patients suffered some form of change: 48 % referrals, 39 % delays, 4% of rectal cancer patients had a prolonged interval to surgery and 5 % underwent neoadjuvant treatment. At the time of study closure, 3 % did not undergo surgery. More than 85 % of the patients were tested preoperatively for SARS-CoV-2. A total of nine patients (3 %) developed postoperative pneumonia; three of them had confirmed SARS-CoV-2. The observed surgical complications and mortality rates were similar as expected in a usual situation. Conclusions: the present multicenter study shows different patterns of response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and collateral effects in managing CRC patients. Knowing these patterns could be useful for planning future changes in surgical departments in preparation for new outbreaks.