Methods: This was a national cohort study of patients with early BC undergoing multidisciplinary team (MDT)-guided treatment recommendations during the pandemic, designated ‘standard’ or ‘COVID-altered’, in the preoperative, operative and post-operative setting.
Findings: Of 3776 patients (from 64 UK units) in the study, 2246 (59%) had ‘COVID-altered’ management. ‘Bridging’ endocrine therapy was used (n = 951) where theatre capacity was reduced. There was increasing access to COVID-19 low-risk theatres during the study period (59%). In line with national guidance, immediate breast reconstruction was avoided (n = 299). Where adjuvant chemotherapy was omitted (n = 81), the median benefit was only 3% (IQR 2–9%) using ‘NHS Predict’. There was the rapid adoption of new evidence-based hypofractionated radiotherapy (n = 781, from 46 units). Only 14 patients (1%) tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 during their treatment journey.
Conclusions: The majority of ‘COVID-altered’ management decisions were largely in line with pre-COVID evidence-based guidelines, implying that breast cancer survival outcomes are unlikely to be negatively impacted by the pandemic. However, in this study, the potential impact of delays to BC presentation or diagnosis remains unknown.