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Decrease in Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer Seen in First Year of Pandemic

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Cases of breast cancer per 100,000 individuals decreased for almost all age groups among women and men

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 29, 2024 (HealthDay News) — There was a reduction in the number of newly diagnosed breast cancer cases from 2019 to 2020, according to a study published in the January issue of Cancer Medicine.

Marie Fefferman, M.D., from the NorthShore University Health System in Evanston, Illinois, and colleagues examined the incidence of breast cancer cases at Commission on Cancer sites to examine the impact of the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic on the number of newly diagnosed breast cancer cases. Data were included for 1,499,806 patients with breast cancer.

The researchers found that breast cancer cases per 100,000 individuals increased from 188 in 2015 to 203 in 2019, then decreased to 176 in 2020 (15.7 percent decrease) for women. For men, breast cancer cases per 100,000 increased from 1.7 in 2015 to 1.8 in 2019, then decreased to 1.5 in 2020 (21.8 percent decrease). For almost all age groups, cases per 100,000 individuals decreased from 2019 to 2020 for both men and women. For all races and ethnicities and geographic locations, rates declined from 2019 to 2020 for women. The largest percentage change was seen for Hispanic patients and those in the Middle Atlantic division (−18.4 and −18.6 percent, respectively). From 2018 to 2020, the stage distribution remained stable for female and male patients.

“Future research is needed to determine when case numbers will return to baseline levels and what the consequences will be of delayed diagnosis and care, particularly among patients and geographic areas that were most severely affected by the pandemic,” the authors write.

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