Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

AACR COVID-19: Recent Trends in Screening for Breast Cancer

By: Joshua D. Madera, MS
Posted: Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, screening and diagnostic procedures for breast cancer have declined, according to a presentation during the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Virtual Meeting on COVID-19 and Cancer (Abstract S11-03). This modification may impact “cancer prevention and early detection, signaling possible downstream effects on the timing and staging of future cancer diagnoses,” explained Mara Epstein, ScD, of the Meyers Primary Care Institute, University of Massachusetts, and colleagues.

Patient data for women in 2019 (n = 80,629) and 2020 (n = 82,695) were analyzed. All patients did not have a history of breast cancer. Mammography and breast biopsy monthly rates per 1,000 people were compared between January and May of 2019 and 2020.

The study findings revealed the average rate of mammography for women in 2019 was 13.6 per 1,000 women; this rate declined in 2020 to 6.1 in March, 0.25 in April, and 1.1 in May per 1,000 women. In addition, a decline in digital tomosynthesis for breast cancer detection was revealed from 2019 (34.7 per 1,000 women) as compared with March through May of 2020 (14.6 vs. 1.4 vs. 1.5 per 1,000 women, respectively). Moreover, women between the ages of 75 and 85, across all racial groups, demonstrated the largest decline in screening and diagnostic procedures. Furthermore, the average number of breast biopsies also declined between 2019 (0.9 per 1,000 women) and March through May of 2020 (0.8 vs. 0.4 vs. 0.1 per 1,000 women, respectively). Furthermore, the largest decline from 2019 to 2020 was observed in April, when the rate of mammography and tomosynthesis declined by 98% and 96%, respectively.

Disclosure: No information regarding conflicts of interest was provided.

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