BCSC Publication Describes Rebound in Mammography Utilization After the Initial Phase of the Pandemic

Despite a strong overall rebound in mammography volume, a substantial cumulative deficit in missed mammograms remains

Posted by Brian Sprague at 1:00 PM on Mar 30, 2021


A new study by BCSC investigators sought to quantify the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on breast cancer screening and diagnostic imaging services in the United States.  Results suggest that, despite huge declines in the early months of the pandemic, mammography volumes rebounded strongly in summer 2020 as healthcare facilities adapted new protocols to ensure staff and patient safety. Specifically, in April 2020, screening mammography volume was only 1% of expected based on historical data.  However, by July 2020, it had rebounded to approximately 90%.  Similar results were observed for diagnostic breast imaging, with volumes rebounding to 100% by July 2020.  However, further increases in mammography volumes above pre-pandemic levels will be required to make up the cumulative number of missed examinations in March through May 2020 during the initial phase of the pandemic. 

Similar patterns in mammography utilization trends during the pandemic were observed by age and breast cancer risk factors, but there were disparities by race as the rebound in mammography volume lagged among Hispanic and Asian women.  Increased attention is needed to understand the reasons for these persistently lower rates and to develop strategies to overcome structural barriers to healthcare utilization due to the pandemic.

Further BCSC research is ongoing to understand the impact of reduced mammography utilization during the pandemic on breast cancer detection and outcomes.


Full Text Citation and Link: Sprague BL, Lowry KP, Miglioretti DL, Alsheik N, Bowles EJA, Tosteson ANA, Rauscher G, Herschorn SD, Lee JM, Trentham-Dietz A, Weaver DL, Stout NK, Kerlikowske K.  Changes in mammography utilization by women’s characteristics during the first five months of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2021. Epub ahead of print. doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djab045. [Link to Article


Find media coverage of the article: 

US News & World Report: https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2021-04-06/mammogram-rates-have-rebounded-since-pandemic-began-but-concerns-remain

UVM Cancer Center: http://www.med.uvm.edu/uvmcancercenter/news/2021/03/31/national_mammography_in_u.s._during_covid-19

Imaging Technology News: https://www.itnonline.com/content/national-study-examines-us-mammography-screening-rates-during-epidemic

News-Medical.net: https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210331/Study-looks-at-US-mammography-screening-rates-during-the-COVID-19-pandemic.aspx

Urban Health Today: https://www.docwirenews.com/urban-health-today/urban-health-picks/mammography-rates-did-not-return-to-pre-pandemic-levels-for-asian-hispanic-women/

Aunt Minnie: https://www.auntminnie.com/index.aspx?sec=sup&sub=wom&pag=dis&ItemID=132010

The Imaging Wire: https://www.theimagingwire.com/2021/04/06/ai-trough-sharing-pocus-effective-abmri/



Posted by: Brian Sprague