CDC Reports Sharp Declines in Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week released a report finding that tests received by women through CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program declined by 87 percent for breast cancer and 84 percent for cervical cancer during April 2020 as compared with previous five-year averages for that month.

According to the CDC, prolonged delays in screening related to the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to delayed diagnoses, poor health consequences, and an increase in cancer disparities among women already experiencing health inequities. Screening declines observed in CDC data coincided with the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases in spring 2020. Factors that may have contributed to the declines during this time include screening site closures and the temporary suspension of certain health services due to the pandemic.

The CDC additionally details health equity implications for this recent study:

  • Declines in breast cancer screening varied from 84 percent among Hispanic women to 98 percent among American Indian/Alaskan Native women.
  • Declines in cervical cancer screening varied from 82 percent among Black women to 92 percent among Asian Pacific Island women.
  • In April, the number of screening tests of breast cancer declined in metro (86 percent), urban (88 percent), and rural (89 percent) areas compared to the respective five-year averages. The decline for cervical cancer screening tests was 85 percent and 82 percent for metro and rural areas and 77 percent for urban areas.
  • Screening volumes had begun to recover in all groups by June 2020 (the end of observation period).

Additional information from the CDC is available here.