Background: Colorectal cancer screening programmes worldwide have been disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic. We aimed to estimate the impact of hypothetical disruptions to organised faecal immunochemical test-based colorectal cancer screening programmes on short-term and long-term colorectal cancer incidence and mortality in three countries using microsimulation modelling. Methods: In this modelling study, we used four country-specific colorectal cancer microsimulation models–Policy1-Bowel (Australia), OncoSim (Canada), and ASCCA and MISCAN-Colon (the Netherlands)—to estimate the potential impact of COVID-19-related disruptions to screening on colorectal cancer incidence and mortality in Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands annually for the period 2020–24 and cumulatively for the period 2020–50. Modelled scenarios varied by duration of disruption (3, 6, and 12 months), decreases in screening participation after the period of disruption (0%, 25%, or 50% reduction), and catch-up screening strategies (within 6 months after the disruption period or all screening delayed by 6 months). Findings: Without catch-up screening, our analysis predicted that colorectal cancer deaths among individuals aged 50 years and older, a 3-month disruption would result in 414–902 additional new colorectal cancer diagnoses (relative increase 0·1–0·2%) and 324–440 additional deaths (relative increase 0·2–0·3%) in the Netherlands, 1672 additional diagnoses (relative increase 0·3%) and 979 additional deaths (relative increase 0·5%) in Australia, and 1671 additional diagnoses (relative increase 0·2%) and 799 additional deaths (relative increase 0·3%) in Canada between 2020 and 2050, compared with undisrupted screening. A 6-month disruption would result in 803–1803 additional diagnoses (relative increase 0·2–0·4%) and 678–881 additional deaths (relative increase 0·4–0·6%) in the Netherlands, 3552 additional diagnoses (relative increase 0·6%) and 1961 additional deaths (relative increase 1·0%) in Australia, and 2844 additional diagnoses (relative increase 0·3%) and 1319 additional deaths (relative increase 0·4%) in Canada between 2020 and 2050, compared with undisrupted screening. A 12-month disruption would result in 1619–3615 additional diagnoses (relative increase 0·4–0·9%) and 1360–1762 additional deaths (relative increase 0·8–1·2%) in the Netherlands, 7140 additional diagnoses (relative increase 1·2%) and 3968 additional deaths (relative increase 2·0%) in Australia, and 5212 additional diagnoses (relative increase 0·6%) and 2366 additional deaths (relative increase 0·8%) in Canada between 2020 and 2050, compared with undisrupted screening. Providing immediate catch-up screening could minimise the impact of the disruption, restricting the relative increase in colorectal cancer incidence and deaths between 2020 and 2050 to less than 0·1% in all countries. A post-disruption decrease in participation could increase colorectal cancer incidence by 0·2–0·9% and deaths by 0·6–1·6% between 2020 and 2050, compared with undisrupted screening. Interpretation: Although the projected effect of short-term disruption to colorectal cancer screening is modest, such disruption will have a marked impact on colorectal cancer incidence and deaths between 2020 and 2050 attributable to missed screening. Thus, it is crucial that, if disrupted, screening programmes ensure participation rates return to previously observed rates and provide catch-up screening wherever possible, since this could mitigate the impact on colorectal cancer deaths. Funding: Cancer Council New South Wales, Health Canada, and Dutch National Institute for Public Health and Environment.

dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2468-1253(21)00003-0, hdl.handle.net/1765/135068
The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Department of Public Health

de Jonge, L. (Lucie), Worthington, J. (Joachim), van Wifferen, F. (Francine), Iragorri, N. (Nicolas), Peterse, E.F.P, Lew, J.-B. (Jie-Bin), … Lansdorp-Vogelaar, I. (2021). Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on faecal immunochemical test-based colorectal cancer screening programmes in Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands: a comparative modelling study. The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology. doi:10.1016/S2468-1253(21)00003-0