COVID-19: Cancer and screening services

Information and guidance on cancer and screening services during the COVID-19 response.

Page updated: 7 September 2021

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Managing haematology and oncology patients during the COVID-19 pandemic

The following guidance is for clinicians managing patients with cancer, phased according to community spread and disruption to normal health systems.

The guidance has been endorsed by the Clinical Assembly of the Cancer Control Agency. It is regularly updated and is a consensus piece of work. The link is to a Google drive with the latest version and clinical feedback.

Cancer screening services

What you need to know about screening at different alert levels.

In Alert Level 4

  • Routine screening is paused for breast and cervical screening services, except for some required annual cervical screening.
  • At present bowel screening will continue. You can still expect to receive your invitation to take part in bowel screening.
  • For those who have already been screened, the decision for diagnostic and treatment services will be made by the clinical teams at a local and regional level on a case-by-case basis.

In Alert Levels 2 and 3

Screening programmes are continuing to operate, with appropriate safeguards in place to keep participants and staff safe. It is recommended that people with pre-existing medical conditions, check with their health professional as to whether it is safe to attend appointments.  

  • Cervical and breast screening will continue for most women. The decision to screen those with existing medical conditions will be made on a case-by-case basis.
  • Bowel screening invitations and home testing kits will continue to be sent out. If you receive a kit in the mail, you should complete it.

More information about bowel, breast and cervical screening can be found on the Time to Screen website.

Impact of COVID-19 on cancer services

The purpose of this analysis by the Cancer Control Agency is to rapidly measure the impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown on cancer services.

The working report has found that cancer treatment services were largely maintained during the COVID-19 lockdown. This was the result of a rapid collective response from the cancer sector across New Zealand, with strong central leadership from the Cancer Control Agency.

However, there was a large disruption to diagnostic services, contributing to a significant reduction in new cancer diagnoses. In general, the disruptions to the cancer care pathway have not increased inequities for Māori to date. 

Further analysis will be done as the data becomes available.

Read the working report:

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