Breast and Lung Cancer Screening Among Medicare Enrollees During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Christopher Doan, Shuang Li, James S. Goodwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Importance: Several studies reported sharp decreases in screening mammography for breast cancer and low-dose computed tomographic screening for lung cancer in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by a return to normal or near-normal levels in the summer of 2020. Objective: To determine the observed vs expected mammography and low-dose computed tomographic scan rates from the beginning of the pandemic through April 2022. Design, Setting, and Participants: In this retrospective cohort study assessing mammography and low-dose computed tomography rates from January 2017 through April 2022, data for January 2016 to February 2020 were used to generate expected rates for the period March 2020 to April 2022. The study included a 20% national sample of Medicare fee-for-service enrollees among women aged 50 to 74 years for mammography, and men and women aged 55 to 79 years for low-dose computed tomographic scan. Main Outcomes and Measures: Receipt of screening mammography or low-dose computed tomographic scan. Results: The yearly cohorts for the mammography rates included more than 1600000 women aged 50 to 74 years, and the cohorts for the low-dose computed tomographic scan rates included more than 3700000 men and women aged 55 to 79 years. From January 2017 through February 2020, monthly mammography rates were flat, whereas there was a monotonic increase in low-dose computed tomographic scan rates, from approximately 500 per million per month in early 2017 to 1100 per million per month by January 2020. Over the period from March 2020 to April 2022, there were episodic drops in both mammography and low-dose computed tomographic scan rates, coincident with increases in national COVID-19 infection rates. For the periods from March 2020 to February 2020 and March 2021 to February 2022, the observed low-dose computed tomographic scan rates were 24% (95% CI, 23%-24%) and 14% (95% CI, 13%-15%) below expected rates, whereas mammography rates were 17% (95% CI, 17%-18%) and 4% (95% CI, 4%-3%) below expected. Conclusions and Relevance: In this cohort study, the decreases in cancer screening during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic did not resolve after the initial pandemic surges. Successful interventions to improve screening rates should address pandemic-specific reasons for low screening participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2255589
JournalJAMA network open
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 3 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine

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