Immediate Screening Mammogram Reads Help Reduce Racial Disparities in Breast Cancer

The implementation of an immediate screening mammogram program during the COVID-19 pandemic helped reduce racial/ethnic disparities in the time to diagnostic imaging following an abnormal mammogram result, according to a study. The results were presented during the 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting.

Per the program, which went into effect in late May 2020, patients received imaging results before they were discharged. In the event of an abnormal result, they underwent diagnostic imaging during the same visit, if possible. Comparisons were made of screenings pre- versus post-implementation, and the researchers calculated the program’s cancer detection rate (CDR), abnormal interpretation rate (AIR), and positive predictive value (PPV).

Final analysis included 8,222 pre- and 7,235 post-implementation exams. The median time to report finalization was much longer during the pre-implementation period than the post-implementation period (61 minutes vs. 4 minutes). Before the launch of the program, non-white patients with an abnormal screening exam were less likely to undergo same-day diagnostic imaging after adjusting for age (odds ratio, 0.28; 95% confidence interval, 0.10-0.78), but after the program’s implantation, there were no between-group disparities. CDR and PPV did not largely differ during the pre- and post-implementation periods, but AIR was higher before the program was implemented (6.3% vs. 5%).

“An immediate read screening mammography program reduces racial/ethnic disparities in time to diagnostic imaging after an abnormal screening mammogram, thus promoting equity in access to care,” the researchers wrote in their conclusion.