Infectious Disease

Cancer screenings for women slumped during the pandemic

HealthDay News – Breast and cervical cancer screenings fell sharply in low-income minority women during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published online in Preventive Medicine on June 30.

Compared to the previous five-year averages in April, the rates of screening tests women received through the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program for underserved women were 87 percent for breast cancer and 87 percent for cervical cancer April 2020.

Declines in breast cancer screening ranged from 84 percent in Hispanic women to 98 percent in Native American / Alaskan people. The decline in early detection of cervical cancer ranged from 82 percent in black women to 92 percent in women living in Asia-Pacific islanders. The results showed that breast cancer screenings were 86 percent lower in large cities, 88 percent in urban areas, and 89 percent lower in rural areas than the five-year average. The decreases in cervical cancer screenings were 85 percent in metropolitan areas, 82 percent in rural areas, and 77 percent in urban areas.

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By June 2020, the end of the analysis period, screening rates began to recover in all groups. Factors that may have contributed to the declines included the closure of screening sites and the temporary suspension of breast and cervical cancer screening services due to COVID-19, according to the CDC. It’s also likely that home stay orders / referrals and fears of contracting COVID-19 have deterred women from booking diagnostic tests, suggest the study authors.

“This study shows a decline in cancer screening among low-income ethnic and ethnic minority women when their access to health care decreased at the onset of the pandemic,” lead author Amy DeGroff, Ph.D., MPH, said in a CDC press release . “CDC encourages health professionals to minimize delays in testing by continuing routine cancer screening for women with symptoms or at high risk for breast or cervical cancer.”

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