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WSU Researchers Find Mammograms Less Common During Covid Pandemic

Courtesy of NPR

Washington State University researchers say one of the casualties of the Covid pandemic is regular screening for breast cancer. They say about half as many women in Washington received mammograms during the pandemic, compared to the year before.WSU researchers used data from MultiCare’s medical records. They found 55,678 MultiCare clients in Washington received mammograms from April to December 2019. During the same timeframe in 2020, some of it during the height of the pandemic, about half, 27,522 women, had that procedure done.

“We observed inequities that women, specifically Hispanic women, experienced the largest drop in breast cancer screening in the pandemic," says researcher Ofer Amram from the WSU College of Medicine. He says the number of mammograms performed on women of color was down by 60% or more, compared to 50% decreases for white women.

“Hispanic women, coming from low socioeconomic status, are more likely to be on Medicaid, so they have generally poor access to health services. During the pandemic, that really makes it difficult to access screening.”

Especially at a time when many women may have viewed mammograms as not emergency procedures and, therefore, unnecessary.

During the pandemic, many providers turned to safer telehealth options to see patients. Amram says he’ll be looking to see whether telehealth will become more of an option for people of color, and especially women, seeking preventive health care.