Breast cancer screening rates have plummeted since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a trend that could lead to a higher risk of later-stage cancer and other potentially serious complications for individuals skipping these important screenings. As of last summer, there was an estimated deficit of 3.9 million breast cancer screenings among American adults since the pandemic began in March 2020. Missed appointments increased and screening mammograms decreased as factors like screening site closures and temporary suspensions of certain medical services kicked in nationwide, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The requirement or recommendation to stay at home and the fear of contracting COVID-19 also likely deterred people from undergoing screenings. The drastic decline in screenings was most apparent at the onset of the pandemic. The total number of cancer screening tests received by women through the CDC’s Prevention’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program declined by 87% in April 2020 for breast cancer compared to previous fiver-year averages for that month. By June 2020 those numbers had slightly rebounded, but breast cancer screenings were still 39% below the five-year average. Based on the first six months of the pandemic, models produced by the National Cancer Institute project 2,487 excess breast cancer related deaths by 2030. These projections are based on the combination of reduced screenings, delayed diagnosis of cancer cases and a reduction in chemotherapy use by women with early-stage cancer. With the state open back up, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging Michigan women to resume routine breast cancer screenings.
Why should I be tested and how often should I be tested?
The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better the chance is for survival. Early detection has contributed to the current figure of 3.8 million U.S. breast cancer survivors. For many women, mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early. Getting a regular mammogram can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer significantly. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your breast cancer risk, when you should begin your screenings. You should also ask your doctor for guidance on how long to wait to get a mammogram screening after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan or Blue Care Network plans cover many preventive care services, including mammography, when performed by in-network providers. In fact, many of our plans cover an annual preventive mammogram at 100 percent when it’s ordered by your doctor. To get all the information about what your plan covers and any potential out-of-pocket costs, look at your Summary of Member Benefits or call the number on the back of your ID card. Photo credit: Getty Images Related: