Cancer Screening Rates Back to Normal After Dip

WEDNESDAY, March 24, 2021 (HealthDay News) – After a sharp drop at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, routine screening rates for breast and colon cancer have quickly returned to near-normal levels, according to a new study.

“These are the first results which show that, despite real fears about the consequences of the decline in cancer screening tests, healthcare facilities have figured out how to recover this after the initial restrictions of the pandemic,” the author said. study principal Ryan McBain. He is a policy researcher at RAND Corporation, a non-profit research organization.

For the study, the researchers analyzed the insurance claims of 6.8 million American adults (aged 45 to 64) filed between mid-January and July 31 of last year.

After March 13, 2020, when a national pandemic emergency was declared, the median weekly rate of routine screening mammograms fell 96%, from 87.8 per 10,000 beneficiaries to 6.9 per 10,000 in April. (Median means half the weeks had more, half less.)

By the end of July, however, the rate had rebounded to 88.2 per 10,000.

Meanwhile, rates of routine colonoscopy screening saw a similar decline, from 95% from 15.1 to 0.9 per 10,000. While the rate rebounded to 12.6 per 10,000 at the end of the month July, that was not enough to offset the initial drop, according to results published online on March 19 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

“Our study shows that healthcare systems were able to recalibrate resources and protocols in a relatively short period of time to deliver these important services,” McBain said in a press release from RAND.

Routine screening procedures such as mammography and colonoscopy are essential for the early detection and treatment of cancers, the study authors noted.

When routine screenings dropped, there were concerns that cancer diagnoses would be delayed, with serious health consequences. Now that rates have rebounded, those who postponed testing should be given priority, one researcher suggested.

“While it is reassuring to see cancer screening rates starting to return to pre-pandemic levels, we need to ensure that people who have delayed prevention services are given priority to get their screening in a timely manner,” especially if they’re at a higher risk of disease, ”said study co-author Dr Dena Bravata, chief medical officer of Castlight Health, a San Francisco-based company focused on access to care. .

More information

The National Cancer Institute in the United States has more on cancer screening.

SOURCE: RAND Corporation, press release, March 22, 2021

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