The COVID-19 Pandemic Disproportionately Impacted Cancer Diagnoses in Minoritized Women

New BCSC study suggests reduced mammography utilization during COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a substantial decline in breast cancer diagnoses, particularly in Asian, Hispanic, and Black women.

Posted by Katy Lowry at 11:00 AM on Oct 27, 2021


The COVID-19 pandemic substantially reduced mammography utilization across the United States beginning in spring of 2020, yet the impact of this decline on cancer outcomes is not yet known. A new study published in Radiology suggests that this decline has translated to a substantial decline in breast cancer diagnoses, particularly in Asian, Hispanic, and Black women.  

In this study, investigators examined breast biopsy recommendations with subsequent cancer diagnoses from 66 facilities across 7 registries of the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium from January 2019 through September 2020. They found that during the pandemic period from March to September 2020, there were 24% fewer breast cancer diagnoses compared to March to September 2019. This difference was largely due to fewer screen-detected cancers (38% fewer in 2020 than in 2019) rather than symptomatic breast cancer diagnoses (7% fewer in 2020). Declines in cancer diagnoses were larger in minoritized race and ethnicity groups, including Asian women (53%), Hispanic women (43%), and non-Hispanic Black women (27%), compared to non-Hispanic White women (17%). These findings raise concern that the pandemic may worsen disparities in breast cancer outcomes due to disproportionate impacts on screening in minoritized women. 


Full text citation and link: Lowry KP, Bissell M, Miglioretti DL, Kerlikowske K, Alsheik N, Macarol T, Bowles EJA, Buist DSM, Tosteson ANA, Henderson L, Herschorn SD, Wernli KJ, Weaver DL, Stout NK, Sprague BL. Breast Biopsy Recommendations and Breast Cancers Diagnosed during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Radiology. 2021, in press. https://doi.org/10.1148/radiol.2021211808 [Link to article]

Find media coverage of the article:

UW Medicine Newsroom: https://newsroom.uw.edu/news/covid-caused-mammography-delays-hit-minorities-harder

Florida News Times: https://floridanewstimes.com/mammography-delays-due-to-covid-have-a-major-impact-on-minorities/369115/

Posted by: Katy Lowry