Trends in breast cancer screening during the COVID-19 pandemic within a universally insured health system in the United States, 2017–2022

Vivitha Mani*, Amanda Banaag, Satish Munigala, Ada Umoh, Andrew J. Schoenfeld, Christian L. Coles, Tracey Perez Koehlmoos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In the United States, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and second leading cause of cancer death in women. Early detection through mammogram screening is instrumental in reducing mortality and incidence of disease. The COVID-19 pandemic posed unprecedented challenges to the provision of care, including delays in preventive screenings. We examined trends in breast cancer screening during the COVID-19 pandemic in a universally insured national population and evaluated rates across racial groups and socioeconomic strata. Methods: In this retrospective open cohort study, we used the Military Health System Data Repository to identify female TRICARE beneficiaries ages 40–64 at average risk for breast cancer between FY2018 and FY2022, broken down into prepandemic (September 1, 2018–February 28, 2020), early pandemic (March 1, 2020–September 30, 2020), and late pandemic periods (October 1, 2020–September 30, 2022). The primary outcome was receipt of breast cancer screening. Results: Screening dropped 74% in the early pandemic period and 22% in the late pandemic period, compared with the prepandemic period. Compared with White women, Asian/Pacific Islander women were less likely to receive mammograms during the late pandemic period (0.92RR; 0.90–0.93 95%CI). American Indian/Alaska Native women remained less likely to receive screenings compared with White women during the early (0.87RR; 0.80–0.94 95% CI) and late pandemic (0.94RR, 0.91–0.98 95% CI). Black women had a higher likelihood of screenings during both the early pandemic (1.10RR; 1.08–1.12 95% CI) and late pandemic (1.12RR, 1.11–1.13 95% CI) periods compared with White women. During the early and late pandemic periods, disparities by rank persisted from prepandemic levels, with a decrease in likelihood of screenings across all sponsor ranks. Conclusion: Our results indicate the influence of race and socioeconomics on mammography screening during COVID-19. Targeted outreach and further evaluation of factors underpinning lower utilization in these populations are necessary to improve access to preventative services across the population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19126-19136
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Medicine
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes


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