COVID-19 and cancer in the Nordic countries


The COVID-19 epidemic unfolded differently in the different Nordic countries. In addition to the direct effect of the virus SARS-CoV-2, data were published early on showing that the pandemic also had indirect effects on health, including on cancer treatment. 

Cancer screening programmes were either stopped, postponed or participation fell, and cancer patients may have received delayed diagnosis and treatment. The study was initiated to study the effect of COVID-19 on cancer diagnostics and treatment in the Nordic countries.


We have based our work on the Nordic Cancer Registry cooperation and use population-based cancer registry data as well as other health registry data from the Nordic countries.

In this registry project, we will investigate:

  1. The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic affected diagnosis and cancer treatment in the Nordic countries by comparing cancer incidence, stage at diagnosis and time from diagnosis to treatment if possible before and after the pandemic
  2. Excess mortality from all causes during the Covid-19 pandemic compared to the pre-pandemic period
  3. Prevalence of Covid-19 in cancer patients
  4. Risk of severe COVID-19 illness (hospitalized, intensive care) and death in cancer patients.

We will harmonize data, perform the analyses in each country, and collect the results.



Anna L V Johansson, Anna Skog, Tom Børge Johannesen, Tor Åge Myklebust, Charlotte Wessel Skovlund, Lina Steinrud Mørch, Søren Friis, Mads Gamborg, Marnar Fríðheim Kristiansen, David Pettersson, Elínborg J Ólafsdóttir, Helgi Birgisson, Runolfur Palsson, Elias Eythorsson, Sandra Irenaeus, Mats Lambe, Giske Ursin (2023) Were cancer patients worse off than the general population during the COVID-19 pandemic? A population-based study from Norway, Denmark and Iceland during the pre-vaccination era DOI: 10.1016/j.lanepe.2023.100680 PubMed 37547277


Anna L V Johansson, Siri Larønningen, Charlotte Wessel Skovlund, Marnar Fríðheim Kristiansen, Lina Steinrud Mørch, Søren Friis, Tom Børge Johannesen, Tor Åge Myklebust, Anna Skog, David Pettersson, Helgi Birgisson, Anni Virtanen, Nea Malila, Janne Pitkäniemi, Tomas Tanskanen, Laufey Tryggvadóttir, Giske Ursin, Mats Lambe (2022) The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer diagnosis based on pathology notifications: A comparison across the Nordic countries during 2020 DOI: 10.1002 /ijc.34029 PubMed 35419824