Breast cancer screening rates (BCSRs) decreased from 2019 to 2020 at community health centers for medically underserved populations, according to a study published online 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 prepandemic BCSRs in CHCs and the lower income populations that they serve.”
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