COVID-19-related drop in breast cancer screening may worsen pre-existing disparities
medwireNews: A US study has found that breast cancer screening rates declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the largest reductions among Black and Latinx women, which may exacerbate pre-existing disparities.
At an urban integrated health system’s safety-net hospital in San Francisco, California, 62% of the scheduled 392 mammography appointments in January 2021 were attended, which was significantly lower than the average attendance rate of 79% in the prepandemic period of September 2019–January 2020.
“The reduction in the cumulative number of mammograms suggests a substantial deficit of missed [breast cancer] screening, which may worsen preexisting disparities,” write Ana Velázquez (University of California, San Francisco) and team in a research letter to JAMA Network Open.
Although screening rates significantly declined in all ethnic groups during the second stay-at-home order from December 2020 to January 2021 compared with the prepandemic period, the absolute decrease was greatest among Black and Latinx women, they report.
Specifically, among Black women, 38% of 184 appointments were attended during the second stay-at-home order versus 59% of 344 appointments in the prepandemic period, while Latinx women attended 61% of 378 appointments during the stay-at-home order and 81% of 881 appointments before the pandemic. This equated to absolute decreases of 21 and 20 percentage points in Black and Latinx women, respectively.
Meanwhile, in the group of White women, 61% of 157 appointments were attended during the second stay-at-home order compared with 71% of 411 appointments in the prepandemic period, with corresponding attendance rates among Asian women of 72% of 307 appointments and 87% of 1081, giving absolute reductions of 10 and 15 percentage points, respectively.
Velázquez et al 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.”
They conclude: “Although vaccination efforts are a top priority, health care systems should leverage COVID-19-related community outreach and engagement to develop concerted efforts that promote preventive care and ensure preexisting disparities do not worsen among communities with higher risk.”
medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Ltd. © 2021 Springer Healthcare Ltd, part of the Springer Nature Group
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