Many parts of the United States saw a significant drop in breast cancer screening of older low-income women during the COVID-19 pandemic, new research shows. The analysis of data from 32 community health centers that serve low-income people found that breast cancer screening for 50 to 74-year-old women dropped 8% between July 2019 and July 2020. That wiped out an 18% increase between July 2018 and July 2019.
Why This Study is Important
According to researchers, this study is important because low-income women have long-standing barriers to accessing care, lower breast screening rates, higher breast cancer death rates, and are especially vulnerable to health care disruptions. If the 2018 to 2019 trend had continued through 2020, about 63% of women would have been screened for breast cancer in 2020 instead of the nearly 50% of women who actually were, the study found. The decline in screening means the 32 centers had potentially 47,517 fewer mammograms and 242 missed breast cancer diagnoses, according to findings published in the journal Cancer.
What Needs to be Done
The researchers believe that these clinics serving lower-income areas need additional resources to identify women in need of screening. Their hope is that actions will be taken to assist these clinics and return breast screening rates to pre-pandemic levels.
For more information, visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute page on breast cancer screening. If it has been a while since your last mammogram, schedule an appointment with your HealthLynked provider as soon as you can.