BCSC Researchers Contributed Two Papers to a Special Issue of Preventive Medicine on COVID-19’s Impact on Cancer Screening
Two new BCSC studies highlight how breast imaging facilities prioritized diagnostic breast imaging over breast cancer screening during periods of reduced capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic and how facilities should use clear, personalized communications with their patients during the pandemic to minimize anxiety and improve access to screening
Breast cancer screening and diagnostic imaging services were widely interrupted in the United States at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing this critical public health issue, BCSC researchers contributed two papers to a special issue of Preventive Medicine, titled “From disruption to recovery: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Cancer Screening", edited by Mona Saraiya and Linda Rabeneck.
The first BCSC paper in this special issue led by Brian Sprague, titled “Prio ritizing breast imaging services during the COVID pandemic: A survey of breast imaging facilities within the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium,” focuses on interruptions in breast cancer screening and diagnostic imaging services. The study evaluates how breast imaging facilities modified their breast imaging services during the pandemic, and particularly how facilities prioritized women for different types of breast imaging examinations during periods of limited capacity or upon re-opening after closures. The study documented variations in breast imaging facility response to the COVID-19 pandemic through a survey of 77 breast imaging facilities across the US within the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium. Over 97% of breast imaging facilities reported closing or operating at reduced capacity for breast imaging services at some point during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic. While breast imaging capacity appeared to rebound strongly by June 2020, approximately 1 in 7 facilities was still operating at reduced capacity in September 2020. More than 90% of facilities reported prioritizing diagnostic breast imaging over breast cancer screening when re-opening after closures or during periods of reduced capacity. For both diagnostic and screening indications, facilities reported prioritization of patients based on multiple factors, including rescheduling previously canceled appointments, patient demand, and individual-level characteristics including risk factors and time since last imaging exam. The observed patterns from this large and geographically diverse sample of facilities in the United States indicate that multiple factors were commonly used to prioritize breast imaging services during periods of reduced capacity.
Full text citation and Link: Brian L. Sprague, Ellen S. O'Meara, Christoph I. Lee, Janie M. Lee, Louise M. Henderson, Diana S.M. Buist, Nila Alsheik, Teresita Macarol, Hannah Perry, Anna N.A. Tosteson, Tracy Onega, Karla Kerlikowske, Diana L. Miglioretti, Prioritizing breast imaging services during the COVID pandemic: A survey of breast imaging facilities within the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium. Preventive Medicine. 2021, 151. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2021.106540. [Link to article]
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A second BCSC paper led by Karen Schifferdecker, titled “Women's considerations and experiences for breast cancer screening and surveillance during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States: A focus group study,” highlighted findings from a qualitative study with women from seven different states. Thirty women ranging in age from 31-69 participated in one of five virtual focus groups. More than half of the women had screening or surveillance during the pandemic and findings revealed nine themes in three topic areas: decision factors, screening experiences, and preferred communications. Prominent themes included women weighing the risks of COVID-19 versus cancer; feelings that screening and surveillance were mostly safe but barriers may be heightened; feeling safe when undergoing screening but receiving a range of pandemic-specific communications from only a little information to a lot; and wanting communications that are personalized, clear and concise. Based on these findings, the authors recommend that providers and facilities assure women of pandemic safety measures, review methods and content of communications, and assess for barriers to screening that may be amplified during the pandemic, including anxiety and access.
Full text citation and Link: Karen E. Schifferdecker, Danielle Vaclavik, Karen J. Wernli, Diana S.M. Buist, Karla Kerlikowske, Brian L. Sprague, Louise M. Henderson, Dianne Johnson, Jill Budesky, Gloria Jackson-Nefertiti, Diana L. Miglioretti, Anna N.A. Tosteson, Women's considerations and experiences for breast cancer screening and surveillance during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States: A focus group study. Preventive Medicine. 2021, 151. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2021.106542. [Link to article]