Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

COVID-19 and Breast Cancer Screening: View From a San Francisco Safety-Net Hospital

By: Grace Murphy, MSW
Posted: Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Evaluating the association between COVID-19 pandemic stages and breast cancer screening in a safety-net hospital in San Francisco, Ana I. Velazquez, MD, MSc, of the University of California, San Francisco, and her colleagues reported their analysis in a research letter in JAMA Network Open. Their cross-sectional study, based on electronic health records, showed a decrease across all age groups and all ethnic groups in the volume and proportion of completed mammograms during the pandemic. They also noted a decline in the proportion of women older than age 70 as well as in Black and Latinx women undergoing breast cancer screening.

“We hypothesize that these differences by race/ethnicity are multilevel and reflect the effect of worry, competing priorities, limited access, and disproportionate burden and socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 in Latinx and Black communities,” stated the study authors.

During 2019 (baseline), 5,662 mammograms were performed, with a mean of 472 per month at the urban integrated health system’s safety-net hospital. During 2020, 3,385 were performed (60% of the baseline). Mammograms performed in the hospital’s mobile unit decreased from 831 in 2019 to 248 in 2020, and no mobile mammograms were performed between April and June 2020.

The number of completed breast cancer screenings in women aged 70 or older went from 119 to 64 (54%) during the second stay-at-home order COVID phase. For Latinx women, completed breast cancer screenings went from 81% to 59% and for Black/African American women, it went from 59% to 38% during the second stay-at-home phase. The number of completed breast cancer screenings was consistently low for Black women during all pandemic phases.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

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