Covid-19 Pandemic Reversed Breast Cancer Screening Trend for Underserved Communities

Dr. Stacey Fedewa, Ph. D, and her team from the American Cancer Society studying the rates of breast cancer screening rates (BCSRs) in 32 community health centers found that “BCSRs significantly rose by 18% between 2018 and 2019 (from 45.8% to 53.9%; SRR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.17-1.18) and then declined by 8% between 2019 and 2020 (from 53.9% to 49.6%; SRR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.92-0.93). If the 2018-2019 BCSR trends had continued through 2020, 63.3% of women would have been screened in 2020 in contrast to the 49.6% who were; this potentially translated into 47,517 fewer mammograms and 242 missed breast cancer diagnoses in this population.”

Though it’s been established that breast cancers screenings plunged sharply at the beginning of the pandemic because medical personnel were pulled away from normal routines to diagnose and care for Covid-19 patients, the rates for screenings among lower-income populations were unknown, according to the authors. Their study addressed that using secondary data from 32 community health centers (CHCs) serving low-income populations and participating in an American Cancer Society grant program to increase breast cancer screening services.

“In this study of 32 CHCs, BCSRs declined by 8% from July 2019 to 2020, and this reversed an 18% improvement between July 2018 and 2019. Declining BCSRs among CHCs during the COVID-19 pandemic call for policies to support and resources to identify women in need of screening,” Fedewa, et al, concluded.


Fedewa, SA, Cotter, MM, Wehling, KA, Wysocki, K, Killewald, R, Makaroff, L. Changes in breast cancer screening rates among 32 community health centers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cancer. 2021. Accessed August 31, 2021, at

Allegretto, Amerigo. COVID-19 pandemic reverses progress on breast cancer screening. August 26, 2021, Accessed August 31, 2021, at