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COVID-19 pandemic impact on the potential exacerbation of screening mammography disparities: a population-based study in Ontario, Canada


Strategies to ramp up breast cancer screening after COVID-19 require data on the influence of the pandemic on groups of women with historically low screening uptake. Using data from Ontario, Canada, our objectives were to 1) quantify the overall pandemic impact on weekly bilateral screening mammography rates (per 100,000) of average-risk women aged 50–74 and 2) examine if COVID-19 has shifted any mammography inequalities according to age, immigration status, rurality, and access to material resources. Using a segmented negative binomial regression model, we estimated the mean change in rate at the start of the pandemic (the week of March 15, 2020) and changes in weekly trend of rates during the pandemic period (March 15—December 26, 2020) compared to the pre-pandemic period (January 3, 2016—March 14, 2020) for all women and for each subgroup. A 3-way interaction term (COVID-19*week*subgroup variable) was added to the model to detect any pandemic impact on screening disparities. Of the 3,481,283 mammograms, 8.6 % (n = 300,064) occurred during the pandemic period. Overall, the mean weekly rate dropped by 93.4 % (95 % CI 91.7 % – 94.8 %) at the beginning of COVID-19, followed by a weekly increase of 8.4 % (95 % CI 7.4 % – 9.4 %) until December 26, 2020. The pandemic did not shift any disparities (all interactions p > 0.05) and that women who were under 60 or over 70, immigrants, or with a limited access to material resources had persistently low screening rate in both periods. Interventions should proactively target these underserved populations with the goals of reducing advanced-stage breast cancer presentations and mortality.



Fu R, Tinmouth J, Li Q, Dare A, Hallet J, Coburn N, Lapointe-Shaw L, Look Hong NJ, Karam I, Rabeneck L, Krzyzanowska M, Sutradhar R, Eskander A. Prev Med Rep. 2024; 17:102578. Epub 2023 Dec 25.

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