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Breast Cancer Screening Down

Breast Cancer Screening Down Among Low-Income Women During Pandemic

Eight percent drop in screenings at 32 community health centers means about 47,517 fewer mammograms, 242 missed breast cancer diagnoses

Breast cancer screening rates (BCSRs) decreased from 2019 to 2020 at community health centers for medically underserved populations, according to a study published online on Aug. 26 in Cancer.

Stacey A. Fedewa, Ph.D., from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues examined changes in BCSRs during the pandemic among 32 community health centers (CHCs) providing health care to medically underserved populations. The CHCs participated in a program to increase BCSRs and implemented at least three evidence-based client- and provider-directed interventions for two years. BCSRs were compared for July 2020 versus July 2019 and June 2018.

The researchers found that from 2018 to 2019, the BCSR among women aged 50 to 74 years increased significantly (from 45.8 to 53.9 percent; screening rate ratio, 1.18) and then decreased between 2019 and 2020 (from 53.9 to 49.6 percent; screening rate ratio, 0.92). Overall, 63.3 percent of women would have been screened in 2020 if 2018 to 2019 trends had continued through 2020 compared with an actual screening rate of 49.6 percent, translating to 47,517 fewer mammograms and 242 missed breast cancer diagnoses.

“Declining BCSRs among CHCs during the COVID-19 pandemic call for policies to support and resources to identify women in need of screening,” the authors write. “These actions will be critical for returning to and surpassing pre-pandemic BCSRs in CHCs and the lower-income populations that they serve.”

Fast Facts About Breast Cancer

  • Each year in the United States, about 255,000 women get breast cancer and 42,000 women die from the disease.
  • Men also get breast cancer, but it is not very common. About 1 out of every 100 breast cancers diagnosed in the United States is found in a man.
  • Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women.

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