News | Breast Imaging | December 07, 2021

Screening disparities exacerbated by the pandemic can be mitigated by increasing access, especially targeting facilities serving vulnerable patient populations

Stratified by race and ethnicity, expressed as percentages of corresponding mean volume in 2018–2019. Graph courtesy of the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS), American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR)

Stratified by race and ethnicity, expressed as percentages of corresponding mean volume in 2018–2019. Graph courtesy of the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS), American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR)


December 7, 2021 — According to an open-access article in ARRS’ American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR), screening disparities that were exacerbated by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic can be mitigated by strategies to increase access, targeting facilities serving vulnerable patient populations.

“After reopening, screening shifted from urban to suburban settings, with disproportionate screening decrease in patients with races other than White,” wrote first author Constance D. Lehman of Massachusetts General Brigham and Harvard Medical School in Boston. Noting that initial delays at facilities serving underserved populations exacerbated disparities, “interventions to expand access resulted in late recovery volumes exceeding prepandemic volumes in patients with races other than White.”

Lehman and her all-Harvard team’s retrospective study included screening mammograms performed during May 26–July 26 in 2019 (prepandemic), 2020 (early recovery), and 2021 (late recovery, following targeted interventions to expand access), across three facility types: urban, suburban, community health center. Suburban sites had the highest proportion of White patients, as well as greatest scheduling flexibility and expanded appointments during initial reopening.

The percentage of mammograms performed in patients with races other than White decreased from 16.8% in 2018 and 16.9% in 2019 to 12.2% in 2020 (early recovery); however, the percentage of mammograms performed in non-White patients increased to 18.0% in 2021 (late recovery). Additionally, 2021 screening volumes exceeded prepandemic volumes for patients with races other than White.

“It may be possible with early intervention to reduce the widening disparities seen with COVID-19 and mitigate the risk of delayed diagnoses and increased mortality from breast cancer during and after pandemics,” the authors of this AJR article concluded.

For more information: www.arrs.org

Related Breast Imaging Information:

Black Women Face Three-fold Increased Risk of Triple Negative Breast Cancers

Black Women Are Receiving Inferior Breast Screening

Hologic Partners with Oprah Winfrey Network to Combat Health Disparities for Black Women

Legislation May Help Identify Breast Cancer Earlier in Certain At-risk Women

Female Breast Cancer Surpasses Lung as the Most Commonly Diagnosed Cancer Worldwide

Johns Hopkins Medicine Expert Weighs Devastating Impact of COVID-19 on Healthcare Workers

Radiation Oncologists Urge Congress to Advance Bills That Protect Patient Access to Cancer Care During Pandemic

Breast Imaging in the Age of Coronavirus


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