Objective: To evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on referral to and delivery of gynecologic oncology care at a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients referred for evaluation by a gynecologic oncologist at Washington University in St. Louis from October 2019 – February 2020 (pre-COVID-19), and April - August 2020 (COVID-19). The primary outcome, time from referral to evaluation by a gynecologic oncologist, was compared between the two time periods. Secondary outcomes included time from initial evaluation to treatment and delays/interruptions in care due to the pandemic. Sub-group analyses were performed on patients with a cancer diagnosis to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on treatment decision making. Results: 884 patients were referred during the study period. Total referrals fell by 32% (526 to 358 patients, p < 0.001) and referrals for cancer fell by 18% (228 to 188 patients, p = 0.049). The pandemic did not impact time from referral to initial gynecologic oncology appointment overall (pre-COVID-19: 19.1 vs. COVID-19: 17.4 days, p = 0.315) or among patients with cancer (14.4 vs. 13.9 days, p = 0.662). Time from initial appointment to cancer treatment decreased by 9 days (34 days to 25 days, p = 0.001). Conclusion: Referrals to gynecologic oncology decreased significantly during the early months of COVID-19. Though time from referral to evaluation was not impacted by the pandemic, time to treatment initiation decreased despite institutional changes related to COVID-19.
- Access to care
- Gynecologic oncology