Researchers Explore How Pandemic Impacted Breast Cancer Screening in Low-Income Populations

After lung cancer, breast cancer is the deadliest type of cancer in the world, affecting women of all ages. Estimates show that about 13% of women develop the deadly cancer in their lifetime. In 2020, more than 2.2 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer, with some 680,000 succumbing to the ailment. These stats highlight the importance of early detection, which is mainly accomplished through breast cancer screening, in helping reduce mortality.

Unfortunately, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic caused many postponements and cancellations in screenings not only for breast cancer but also other types of cancer. As a result, thousands of individuals had no access to potentially life-saving and vital health-care services.

Researchers sought to examine the extent to which the COVID-19 outbreak impacted access to breast cancer screening; the research was led by the American Cancer Society’s Stacey A. Fedewa. The team of scientists investigated the rate of breast cancer screening among women in lower-income populations aged between 50 and 74 across more than 30 community health centers in the United States.

Each woman who took part in the study had received a screening mammogram in the last 27 months and had a medical visit in the last 12 months. This, the researchers determined, was important because this particular population had higher breast cancer mortality rates and lower rates for breast cancer screening. The researchers added that this population also had barriers to accessing care and was particularly vulnerable to health-care disruptions.

Between July 2019 and July 2020, the researchers observed an 8% decline in the rate of breast cancer screening across community health centers. This drop in screenings was markedly different from what had been observed in 2018, when the rates of breast cancer screening in the same health centers increased by more than 15%.

In their report, the researchers noted that if the trend observed in 2018—2019 had continued, at least 63% of women would have gotten screened for breast cancer during the pandemic, instead of the 49% that did get screened in 2020. In figures, this decline translates to roughly 47,500 fewer mammograms done and more than 200 missed breast cancer diagnoses.

In their conclusion, the researchers state that the decline in breast cancer screening numbers emphasized the need for resources to identify women who needed screening, as well as policies which supported screening.

The study’s findings were published in the ACS journals. Other researchers involved in the study include Karla Wysocki, Laura Makaroff, Richard Killewald, Kristen A. Wehling and Megan M. Cotter.

The dip in cancer screening during the pandemic makes it even more urgent that multicancer screening technology, such as that developed by companies including AnPac Bio-Medical Science Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: ANPC), sees widespread deployment so that cancer cases can be caught early during the window when a complete cure is possible.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to AnPac Bio-Medical Science Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: ANPC) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/ANPC

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