Breast Cancer Management During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Senologic International Society Survey

Carole Mathelin*, Shanti Ame, Stanley Anyanwu, Eli Avisar, Wahib Mohcen Boubnider, Katrin Breitling, Hannah Ayettey Anie, José Carlos Conceição, Veronique Dupont, Elisabeth Elder, Constanze Elfgen, Tony Elonge, Edelmiro Iglesias, Shigeru Imoto, Lydia Ioannidou-Mouzaka, Elisabeth A. Kappos, Martin Kaufmann, Michael Knauer, Franck Luzuy, Marko MargaritoniMamadou Mbodj, Alexander Mundinger, Ruben Orda, Valerijus Ostapenko, Serdar Özbaş, Vahit Özmen, Olivia Pagani, Tadeusz Pieńkowski, Schlomo Schneebaum, Ekaterina Shmalts, Ashraf Selim, Zotov Pavel, Massimo Lodi, Maurício Magalhales Costa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: In early 2020, the spread of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) led the World Health Organization to declare this disease a pandemic. Initial epidemiological data showed that patients with cancer were at high risk of developing severe forms of COVID-19. National scientific societies published recommendations modifying the patients’ breast cancer (BC) management to preserve, in theory, quality oncologic care, avoiding the increased risk of contamination. The Senology International Society (SIS) decided to take an inventory of the actions taken worldwide. This study investigates COVID-19-related changes concerning BC management and analyzes the will to maintain them after the pandemic, evaluating their oncological safety consequences. Materials and Methods: SIS network members participated in an online survey using a questionnaire (Microsoft® Forms) from June 15th to July 31st, 2020. Results: Forty-five responses from 24 countries showed that screening programs had been suspended (68%); magnetic resonance imagines were postponed (73%); telemedicine was preferred when possible (71%). Surgeries were postponed: reconstructive (77%), for benign diseases (84%), and in patients with significant comorbidities (66%). Chemotherapy and radiotherapy protocols had been adapted in 28% of patients in both. Exception for telemedicine (34%), these changes in practice should not be continued. Conclusion: The SIS survey showed significant changes in BC’s diagnosis and treatment during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, but most of these changes should not be maintained. Indeed, women have fewer severe forms of COVID-19 and are less likely to die than men. The risk of dying from COVID-19 is more related to the presence of comorbidities and age than to BC. Stopping screening and delaying treatment leads to more advanced stages of BC. Only women aged over 65 with BC under treatment and comorbidities require adaptation of their cancer management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-196
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Breast Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • clinical practices
  • pandemic
  • survey


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