Google search volume trends for cancer screening terms during the COVID-19 pandemic

J Med Screen. 2021 Jun;28(2):210-212. doi: 10.1177/0969141321999426. Epub 2021 Mar 4.


The COVID-19 pandemic has led to delays in cancer diagnosis, in part due to postponement of cancer screening. We used Google Trends data to assess public attention to cancer screening during the first peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Search volume for terms related to established cancer screening tests ("colonoscopy," "mammogram," "lung cancer screening," and "pap smear") showed a marked decrease of up to 76% compared to the pre-pandemic period, a significantly greater drop than for search volume for terms denoting common chronic diseases. Maintaining awareness of cancer screening during future public health crises may decrease delays in cancer diagnosis.

Keywords: COVID-19; breast cancer screening; cancer screening; cervical cancer screening; colon cancer screening; lung cancer screening.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • COVID-19*
  • Colonoscopy / trends
  • Early Detection of Cancer*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Information Seeking Behavior*
  • Information Storage and Retrieval / trends*
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Mammography / trends
  • Search Engine / statistics & numerical data
  • Search Engine / trends*
  • Vaginal Smears / trends