Dr. Labaki on Disparities in Mammography Screenings During the COVID-19 Pandemic


Chris Labaki, MD, discusses racial disparities with regard to mammography screenings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chris Labaki, MD, oncology research fellow, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, discusses racial disparities with regard to mammography screenings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored pre-existing health disparities between socioeconomic and ethnic groups, but it has been unclear whether changes in screening tests disproportionately impact marginalized communities. As such, investigators set out to evaluate temporal changes in cancer screening tests and diagnoses in a large healthcare system in the United States. Specifically, they evaluated socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic characteristics of patients undergoing screening during the pandemic.

Results revealed a significant decrease in mammography screenings in non-Hispanic Black patients and Hispanic patients from September 2020 to December 2020, according to Labaki. This contrasted with the increase in mammography screenings observed during this time period in the overall study population, Labaki says.

These data indicate that certain racial and ethnic groups are not experiencing the same recovery in these screening procedures, and the rates remain lower than they were before the pandemic, Labaki says. As such, widespread screening campaigns must be implemented to include all racial groups that comprise this patient population, Labaki concludes. 

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