Yvette Lowery usually gets her annual mammogram around March. But last year, just as the pandemic was gaining a foothold and medical facilities were shutting down, the center where she goes canceled her appointment. No one could tell her when to reschedule.
“They just said keep calling back, keep calling back,” said Ms. Lowery, 59, who lives in Rock Hill, S.C.
In August, Ms. Lowery felt a lump under her arm but still couldn’t get an appointment until October.
Eventually, she received a diagnosis of Stage 2 breast cancer, started chemotherapy in November and had a double mastectomy this month.
an analysis of data by the Epic Health Research Network. Hundreds of thousands fewer screenings were performed last year than in 2019, according to the network data.
“We still haven’t caught up,” said Dr. Chris Mast, vice president of clinical informatics for Epic, which develops electronic health records for hospitals and clinics.
Another analysis of Medicare data suggested that as Covid cases spiked during certain periods in 2020, cancer screenings fell. The analysis — conducted by Avalere Health, a consulting firm, for Community Oncology Alliance, which represents independent cancer specialists — found that testing levels in November were about 25 percent lower than in 2019. The number of biopsies, used to diagnose cancer, decreased by about one-third.