Breast Cancer Screening, Diagnosis, and Surgery during the Pre- and Peri-pandemic: Experience of Patients in a Statewide Health Information Exchange.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Annals of surgical oncology : the official journal of the Society of Surgical Oncology


california; sjci; covid-19


BACKGROUND: Measures taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted routine diagnosis and care for breast cancer. The aim of this study was to characterize the effects of the pandemic on breast cancer care in a statewide cohort.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Using data from a large health information exchange, we retrospectively analyzed the timing of breast cancer screening, and identified a cohort of newly diagnosed patients with any stage of breast cancer to further access the information available about their surgical treatments. We compared data for four subgroups: pre-lockdown (preLD) 25 March to 16 June 2019; lockdown (LD) 23 March to 3 May 2020; reopening (RO) 4 May to 14 June 2020; and post-lockdown (postLD) 22 March to 13 June 2021.

RESULTS: During LD and RO, screening mammograms in the cohort decreased by 96.3% and 36.2%, respectively. The overall breast cancer diagnosis and surgery volumes decreased up to 38.7%, and the median time to surgery was prolonged from 1.5 months to 2.4 for LD and 1.8 months for RO. Interestingly, higher mean DCIS diagnosis (5.0 per week vs. 3.1 per week, p < 0.05) and surgery volume (14.8 vs. 10.5, p < 0.05) were found for postLD compared with preLD, while median time to surgery was shorter (1.2 months vs. 1.5 months, p < 0.0001). However, the postLD average weekly screening and diagnostic mammogram did not fully recover to preLD levels (2055.3 vs. 2326.2, p < 0.05; 574.2 vs. 624.1, p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Breast cancer diagnosis and treatment patterns were interrupted during the lockdown and still altered 1 year after. Screening in primary care should be expanded to mitigate possible longer-term effects of these interruptions.

Clinical Institute


Clinical Institute

Women & Children


Infectious Diseases