Huge Reductions in Screenings for Breast and Cervical Cancer Occurred During the Pandemic

A new study using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that screenings for breast and cervical cancer dropped dramatically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC warns that the reduction in the number of screenings may have a long-term effect on women’s health and may widen existing racial and ethnic health disparities.

According to CDC data, the number of screenings for breast cancer declined by 87 percent in April 2020 compared to the five-year average for the previous five Aprils. For cervical cancer, screenings were down 84 percent in April 2020. The decline in screenings was more prevalent among, Blacks, Hispanics, and other racial/ethnic minorities.

“This study highlights a decline in cancer screening among women of racial and ethnic minority groups with low incomes when their access to medical services decreased at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Amy DeGroff, CDC health scientist and lead author of the study. “They reinforce the need to safely maintain routine health care services during the pandemic.”

Screening declines observed in the Early Detection Program coincided with the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases in spring 2020. Factors that might have contributed to the declines during this time include screening site closures and the temporary suspension of breast and cervical cancer screening services due to COVID-19. The requirement or recommendation to stay at home and the fear of contracting COVID-19 also likely deterred individuals from seeking health care services, including cancer screening. The authors noted that the number of screenings began to recover by June 2020.

The full study, “COVID-19 Impact on Screening Test Volume Through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, January–June 2020, in the United States,” will be published in the October 2021 issue of Preventive Medicine. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study

RSSComments (0)

Leave a Reply