Impact of the COVID-19 breast cancer screening hiatus on clinical stage and racial disparities in New York City

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American journal of surgery


BACKGROUND: The impact of the COVID-19 mammography screening hiatus as well as of post-hiatus efforts promoting restoration of elective healthcare on breast cancer detection patterns and stage distribution is unknown.

METHODS: Newly diagnosed breast cancer patients (2019-2021) at the New York Presbyterian (NYP) Hospital Network were analyzed. Chi-square and student's t-test compared characteristics of patients presenting before and after the screening hiatus.

RESULTS: A total of 2137 patients were analyzed. Frequency of screen-detected and early-stage breast cancer declined post-hiatus (59.7%), but returned to baseline (69.3%). Frequency of screen-detected breast cancer was lowest for African American (AA) (57.5%) and Medicaid patients pre-hiatus (57.2%), and this disparity was reduced post-hiatus (65.3% for AA and 63.2% for Medicaid).

CONCLUSIONS: The return to baseline levels of screen-detected cancer, particularly among AA and Medicaid patients suggest that large-scale breast health education campaigns may be effective in resuming screening practices and in mitigating disparities.

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ePub ahead of print