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Impact of Pandemic Projected for U.S. Breast Cancer Mortality

Cumulative increase of 0.52 percent expected in breast cancer deaths by 2030 due to disruptions during the first six months of the pandemic

THURSDAY, July 15, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Pandemic-related disruptions in breast cancer care experienced during the first six months of the pandemic are expected to have a long-term cumulative impact on breast cancer mortality in the United States, according to a study published online July 14 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Oguzhan Alagoz, Ph.D., from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and colleagues projected the impact of COVID-19 on future breast cancer mortality between 2020 and 2030. Reductions in mammography screening use, delays in symptomatic cancer diagnosis, and reduced use of chemotherapy among women with early-stage disease during the first six months of the pandemic were modeled as was the return to prepandemic patterns.

The researchers found that by 2030, the models projected 950, 1,314, and 151 cumulative excess breast cancer deaths related to reduced screening, delayed diagnosis of symptomatic cases, and reduced chemotherapy use, respectively, in women with hormone-positive, early-stage cancer. When scenarios were modeled jointly, an excess of 2,487 breast cancer deaths by 2030 were estimated, representing a 0.52 percent cumulative increase over deaths expected in the absence of disruptions caused by the pandemic. If the modeled pandemic effects of screening, symptomatic diagnosis, and chemotherapy extended for 12 months, breast cancer mortality impact would be approximately doubled.

“There were many reports on the short-term impact of COVID-19 on breast cancer control activities,” Alagoz said in a statement. “Facilities should prioritize screening women who missed their routine mammography exam during the pandemic to reduce the impact of [the] pandemic on mortality.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical and health care industries.

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