A Slow Return to Normalcy in Breast Imaging
Data from breastcancer.org indicates that 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 48,530 cases of noninvasive (in situ) breast cancer will be diagnosed in American women in 2020. Of these cases, more than 42,000 women are expected to die. The incidence of death from breast cancer decreased 1.3 percent per year from 2013-2017, with the decline credit being giving to earlier detection through screening.
But what happens now? When the severity of COVID-19 first started becoming apparent in February, and then the urgency being realized in March, many elective procedures, including most areas of cancer screening, were put on hold to prioritize more critical healthcare needs and help quell the spread of the coronavirus — including breast screening.
This issue is addressed by contributing author Susan Harvey, M.D., in the feature “Breast Imaging in the Age of Coronavirus” of this issue. Harvey states, “Devastatingly, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently predicted 10,000 more people in the United States will die in the next decade from breast or colorectal cancer because of delayed screening and treatment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” So, what is the next step to rectify this spiraling trend?
Harvey stresses that now is the time to continue the dialogue with one another to ensure patients nationwide get the quality care that they deserve for their breast health while guaranteeing that they are safe in all other aspects. It also is the time to stress the importance of routine screening to patients. Even though breast imaging facilities have since begun accepting patients for routine mammograms, a recent survey conducted by Hologic found that 27 percent of compliant women plan to either skip or delay their mammogram in 2020.
“It is impossible to overstate the massive impact the COVID-19 pandemic continues to make on the health and well-being of the global population, especially when we consider the potential long-term implications of delayed or cancelled preventive screenings, such as mammograms,” said Pete Valenti, Hologic’s division president, breast and skeletal health solutions. “In response, breast health providers have gone to great lengths to establish protocols to ensure patient safety as women return to screening.”
The unfortunate fact is, the true impact that COVID-19 has had on breast imaging still remains to be seen.
How COVID Has Disrupted Screening Mammography and The Urgency to Resume Screenings:
VIDEO: The Impact of COVID-19 on Breast Imaging — Interview with Christiane Kuhl, M.D.