ACR Bulletin

Covering topics relevant to the practice of radiology

Breast Screening Meets COVID-19

A new JAMA study finds high rates of missed breast cancer screening as a result of the pandemic, which may worsen preexisting disparities among underserved groups.
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September 28, 2021
  • Over the 20 weeks following March 11, 2020, the volume of screening mammograms fell 58%, while diagnostic mammograms fell 38%.1
  • A study in Washington State found the number of screening mammograms done between April and December 2020 dropped by 49% compared to the same period the year before.3
  • It is estimated that delayed and missed screenings will likely increase breast cancer deaths by 7.9% to 9.6%.2


  • 49.2% in White patients
  • 53.9% in Black patients
  • 54.5% in Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander patients
  • 60.9% in American Indian/Alaska Native patients
  • 64.2% in Latinx patients


  1. A substantial deficit of missed breast cancer screenings may worsen preexisting disparities.
  2. The differences by race/ethnicity reflect the effect of worry, competing priorities, limited access, and disproportionate burden and socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 in underserved communities.
  3. Healthcare systems should leverage COVID-19–related community outreach and engagement to develop concerted efforts that ensure preexisting disparities do not worsen among communities with higher risk.3

Read the full study in JAMA at