The Impact of COVID-19 on Urological Cancer: An internet Search Volume Analysis
Objectives: Health services have been disrupted due to Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). With patients, unable to access face to face healthcare, many turn to sources such as the Internet for health-related information. Other patients ignore all other health related issues and focus on the threat posed by a pandemic. This study sought to analyse the Internet health-seeking behaviour related to urological cancer of patients in the United Kingdom (UK) during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Methods: Internet search volumes over a 3-month period, during the UK pandemic, were analysed using Google TrendsTM to obtain a search volume index (SVI) and compared to an equivalent pre COVID-19 period. The SVI measures relative search volume and was obtained for “Prostate Cancer”, “Kidney Cancer”, “Bladder Cancer” and Testicular Cancer” searches. Results: The average SVI for Prostate Cancer before the COVID-19 pandemic was 49.3, compared to 42.6 during the pandemic (p=0.001). Kidney cancer had an average SVI of 45.5 before the pandemic compared to 35.4 during the pandemic (p <0.001). Similar results were obtained for Bladder and Testicular Cancer. There was a 23% decrease in SVI for urological cancer searches during the pandemic compared to before the pandemic (p <0.001). Conclusions: The decline in searches for urological cancer during the pandemic may have implications. Patients maybe ignoring new cancer related symptoms which could result in late diagnoses, public health campaigns are required. Patients with cancer may not be utilising online resources available to them and healthcare professionals should reach out to patients at a time when face-face interaction is limited.
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